The Boatman’s Wife by Noelle Harrison
Published January 14th 2021 by Bookouture
Description: There was some dark secret in this western edge of Ireland that her husband never wanted her to find out. She might never be able to lay his body to rest, but she could gain some kind of closure by finding out who the man she married was.
When Lily married her soulmate Connor, buffeted by the sea spray and wild winds of her coastal homeland in Maine, she never imagined she’d be planning his memorial just three years later. Connor has been lost at sea in the bleak stormy Atlantic, leaving Lily heartbroken. But as she prepares to say goodbye to Connor for the last time, she is shocked to discover a message to him that he never told her about:
Does your wife know who you really are, Connor Fitzgerald? Don’t ever think you can come home. Because if you do, I swear I’ll kill you.
Unable to bear living in the home she and Connor shared, Lily decides to find out her husband’s secret. She flies to Connor’s home town of Mullaghmore on the west coast of Ireland, a harbour town hugged by golden beaches and emerald-green fields. But when doors are slammed in her face, she begins to realise that she knows nothing about her husband’s past. Connor’s grandmother, a hermit living on the cliffs of the wild Atlantic, must know the truth about her grandson. But when Lily tries to find her, threatening notes are pushed through her door warning her not to stay. Will Lily leave the darkness of the past where it belongs? Or will she risk everything to find out the truth about the man she married…
A completely heart-breaking story about the lies we tell to protect the ones we love. Fans of The Light Between Oceans, Lisa Wingate and Susanne O’Leary will lose their hearts to The Boatman’s Wife.
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This was a dual timeline story that had my emotions all over the place. The story of Lily and Connor is set in Maine in 2017. Lily works on her dad’s lobster boat and is beginning to want more. She meets Connor who is working at the local bar where the men and Lily go to have a beer before heading home. There is an immediate attraction between them and within a few months they get married. Three years later, Connor is dead, drowned in a storm that should have sent her father and his crew home, but he made the decision to stay out too long. Lily, dealing with her loss and her anger at her father, heads to Ireland to try and find Connor’s grandmother and why he didn’t want her to know anything about his past.
The second timeline is the story of Niamh. She has gotten herself involved in the IRA in the 1990s. She is recruited by her second cousin, Brendan, and when she tries to get out, finds out that it isn’t possible. As well there is a romance between Niamh and an American who is working as an apprentice boatbuilder in her town. Lily finds out a lot more than she had planned when she ends up in Connor’s home village in Ireland.
I visited Ireland a few years ago and signed my name on one of the “Peace” walls in Belfast. I also went on a walking tour and learned a bit about the Irish Conflict, but not a lot. This story gave me a look through the eyes of the people who lived through it and how it effected their lives. Then there were the beautiful settings that were described in Noelle Harrison’s wonderful prose. I could picture the beaches and feel the terror of the storms. The story of Lily’s journey to find out more about Connor and to meet his family was interesting and emotional. There were a lot of secrets and lies that she had to make her way through.
This is the first Noelle Harrison novel I’ve read, and it will not be the last. I enjoy dual timeline stories and this one had me trying to work out the connection between them. I thought I knew, but there was just enough doubt that I wasn’t positive until the end. There was some intrigue, what happened to Niamh that when this was revealed I was surprised. Overall, a very enjoyable story that I recommend to those who enjoy historical fiction with some romance and intrigue, as well as those who enjoy dual timeline stories. I was gifted a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.
About the Author: I’m an Irish author who’s been writing novels and plays for nearly thirty years. My first novel, Beatrice was published in August 2004 which was a bestseller in Ireland. This was followed by A Small Part Of me in 2005, I Remember in 2008, The Adulteress in 2010, The Secret Loves of Julia in 2012, The Gravity of Love in 2018, and The Island Girls in 2020.
My books have been published in over 12 different countries. I am also published under the pen name Evie Blake and my Valentina Trilogy hit the Der Spiegel Bestseller List in 2013. In 2014, I was one of 56 Irish Writers included in the anthology and exhibition Lines of Vision Irish Writers on Art at the National Gallery of Ireland, and published by Thames & Hudson.
I have also written five plays – Northern Landscapes, Black Virgin, Runaway Wife, The Good Sister, and Witches’ Gets, which featured in Cymera and Audacious Women Festivals in Edinburgh to sell out houses.
I currently live in Edinburgh in Scotland, and I am one of the founders of Aurora Writers’ Retreats, and part of the wellness hub The Space To BE.
If you like stories written from the heart, historical with contemporary timeslip, family mysteries and secrets and always always a love story set against evocative landscapes from all over the world, you might like to pick up one of my books. My aim is to tell women’s stories from the past and present and to give voice to those who are rarely heard.