Secrets of the Tides by Hannah Richell

The tagline for this book is ‘Every Family Has Its Secrets’ and as everyone is aware, every family does. The Tides are a ‘normal’ family; a mum, a dad and two girls. Although with slightly dramatic names, Cassandra and Pandora aren’t out of the ordinary, growing through life from giggly girls to moody teenagers. However, right from the outset you can feel that tragedy struck this family in its prime.

We meet Dora as a woman, terrified of her past and willing the future to expand and dissolve all the pain and hurt left over. When we meet Helen, their mum, 16 years earlier, smaller pieces slot into place. So back and forth the book oscillates between the past and present. The three women of this family circling each other in larger and larger circles until nothing is left except bewilderment, wondering where it all went wrong. Bad luck, bad timing and more hurt than any family should bear is thrown at them which time doesn’t seem to diminish.

Although somewhat flowery in its prose, Secrets of the Tides seems to fit its odd balance between the worlds of country England with the hustle and bustle of London. Even though equal time is spent with Dora, Cassie and their mother, Helen. I felt each pain equally as I read. Everyone has a family of some description, one into which they were born, one they made themselves or one they created from people surrounding them. The narrative pulls each of these apart to show what holds them together and makes them so important to us.

Each character is beautifully sketched and in them, we see ourselves and our own histories and maybe even can find our little bit of peace at the end.

kate-rockstrom-pic Kate Rockstrom is a Classical Specialist at Readings Carlton. She regularly performs as a flautist as well as writing about music and books, follow her at