(Review): To the Sea by Christine Dibley

(Review): To the Sea by Christine DibleyTo The Sea by Christine Dibley
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Published by Pan Macmillan Australia on December 22nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Family, Fiction, General, Sagas
Pages: 464
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Click here to buy the book from AmazonBooktopiaBook DepositoryAngus and Robertson
To the Sea is the stunning saga from debut author Christine Dibley."To The Sea is a call to the sea passed on from mother to daughter... lyrical, evocative and deeply engrossing." Australian Arts ReviewA dangerous yearning echoes through generations ...On a clear summer's day, Detective Inspector Tony Vincent answers a call-out to an idyllic Tasmanian beach house. Surrounded by family and calm waters, seventeen-year-old Zoe Kennett has inexplicably vanished.Four storytellers share their version of what has led to this moment, weaving tales which span centuries and continents. But Tony needs facts, not fiction: how will such fables lead him to Zoe and to the truth?As Tony's investigation deepens, he is drawn into a world where myth and history blur, and where women who risk all for love must pay the price through every generation.For fans of Kate Morton and Alice Hoffman.

When a Tasmanian teenager goes missing at her family’s beach house detective Tony Vincent is determined to find out what happened to her. As he investigates her disappearance, he discovers Zoe Kennett is not like most teenage girls and her family is stranger than most. With Zoe’s mother insistent her daughter is still alive because of the stories her ancestors have passed down, Tony has to separate fact from fiction to find out what has happened to Zoe.

To the Sea is a book which stands out for many reasons. Part police procedural, part folk story, To the Sea combines a modern Australian mystery with Irish legend. Blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, this book interweaves the stories of four generations of a family and the legends of their ancestors.

The characters in this novel are fascinating and wonderfully flawed. Zoe’s family didn’t notice when she disappeared and aren’t overly concerned by the fact that she’s missing. When the police are called in, many of the family treat detective Tony’s presence as an inconvenience. As we get to know the different characters and their relationships with their family, we get to see how their histories made them the people they are at Zoe’s disappearance. One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was how authentically each of the characters came across. The author has written these characters in such a way they they may not be entirely likeable or endearing but they felt like real people complete with their imperfections and own baggage. After finishing the book I felt like I knew these people and where they had come from. That is a very hard thing to do as an author, to give such a clear picture into their lives in less than 450 pages, but Dibley succeeded brilliantly.

There are times throughout the novel where it becomes unclear what is real with the lines between myth and reality blurring. Not knowing just how far into the realm of fantasy the story is going to take readers was exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat.

And the setting is gorgeous. Described so vividly there were times I felt I could have been there at the Kennett’s family home on the Tasmanian coast. This is definitely a book which evokes feelings of summer along and is quintessentially Australian with Irish twist.

Spanning generations and continents, To the Sea is a beautifully told story. Zoe’s mysterious disappearance keeps a thread of suspense over the course of the novel as Tony uncovers her family’s secrets. Christine Dibley’s debut novel is an engaging read and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Many thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for the review copy.

Be sure to check out my Q&A with Christine Dibley to learn more about her and her novel, To the Sea. 

About Christine Dibley

Born in outback New South Wales, Christine Dibley arrived in Tasmania thirty years ago and has been held there by that strange bond islands weave around their inhabitants.

Christine raised four children while developing a career in the human services, primarily working with children, homeless people, refugees and aged people. She resigned her position as a CEO in the health industry four years ago to pursue full time writing. She continues to travel, most recently in Ireland, Scotland and Iceland.

To the Sea is Christine's first novel.

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