Sunday, 1 March 2015

Book Review #8 / Without You

Without You by Saskia Sarginson

I have to confess that I almost failed the 'read a book a week' challenge I set myself at the beginning of 2015, this week. When it got to Saturday and I hadn't even started a new read I was just about ready to admit defeat. Until I picked up Saskia Sarginson's intense thriller/drama 'Without You' and found myself unable to put it down all day (only stopping for food and tea breaks...)

Suffolk 1984

When seventeen-year-old Eva goes missing at sea, everyone presumes that she has drowned. Her parents' relationship is falling apart, undermined by guilt and grief. But her younger sister, Faith, refuses to consider a life without Eva; she's determined to find her sister and bring her home alive.

Close to shore looms the shape of an island - out of bounds, mysterious and dotted with windowless concrete huts. What nobody knows is that inside one of the huts Eva is being held captive. That she is fighting to survive - and return home.

If you read my weekly book reviews then you'll know I tend to give the positives and negatives to each book I read but, in all honesty, I cannot fault Without You at all - it really was that good.
This is one of the most beautifully written, captivating novels I have ever read and I am just so glad I added it to my Amazon basket when it popped up as a recommended read.

Without You is set in 1984 in a sleepy Suffolk village, and tells the tale of the Gale family whose eldest daughter, Eva, is believed to have drowned at sea whilst out sailing with her father in a storm.

But, unbeknownst to her family, Eva is mere miles away, being held in a concrete hut on a deserted, 
Ministry of Defence testing island that everyone presumes to be empty. The man keeping her there -whom she only knows as Billy - found Eva washed up at sea following her sailing accident. Following a 'voice' in his head that told him he would save a girl, he refuses to let her go until this voice tells him otherwise.

The chapters flit between different members of the Gale family - focusing mainly on Eva and her life on the island, and her younger sister Faith who refuses to believe that Eva is really gone. Both Eva and Faith's chapters are told in first person narrative allowing us to really get into the mind of both sisters whilst their parents - Max and Clara's - chapters are in third person and jump between the present and the past showing how their relationship first blossomed in a stark contrast to how it has now strained following Eva's presumed death.

What I love most about this book is how descriptive it is, especially in Eva's chapters as Sarginson goes into great detail about the dingy, deserted pagoda Eva is being held in and the conditions she has to live in. I really felt like I could picture the damp squalor hut and understand how scared and hopeless she felt.

As the book is set thirty years ago in a remote village, I thought I might struggle to relate but Sarginson creates such clear imagery that I felt like I could envisage everything- from the winding, country roads to the old fashioned, creaky house the family live in. 

I've said before that it is essential for me to build up a relationship with the characters in a book or I begin to lose interest and am not spurred on to continue reading. This was certainly not a problem with Without You as I immediately felt a connection with all the characters. I willed Eva to escape, wanted to Faith to be reunited with her sister and hoped their parents relationship wouldn't crumble.

From start to finish, I was completely gripped by this book and the end of each chapter only made me eager for more. 

Without You is a hauntingly beautiful book that I think will stick with me for a while. It's filled with mystery and suspense and both exciting yet emotional. A truly compelling read that I would 100% recommend. 

You can buy it here.

Have you - or do you want to - read this book? 

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