The Sea Change by Joanna Rossiter

Set in lost landscapes, The Sea Change is Joanna Rossiter’s debut novel revolving around a mother and daughter caught up in catastrophic events. The lost landscapes are the village of Imber, a Wiltshire village that was requisitioned by the army during World War Two, where Violet had grown up, and the coastal village of Kanyakumari in Southern India, where her daughter Alice was caught up in the tsunami that devastated the area in 1971.

It’s about lost lives too, wrecked relationships, the isolation of people through their inability to communicate with each other, about love, loss and grief and above all about the relationship between mothers and daughters and sisters.

I enjoyed reading this beautifully written book; I could easily visualise the different landscapes as I read. It begins with drama in the ‘present’ (1971) as the tsunami sweeps through Kanyakumari, separating Alice from her new husband, James and she is in danger of drowning. The story is a dual time novel told alternately by Alice and Violet. After the dramatic opening scenes it then moves immediately to Imber in 1971 as Violet returns to Imber and recalls how they were forced to leave, clinging to Imber ‘as if it were a lost soul.

There are parallels between their stories, both caught up in events outside their control. I was more interested in Violet’s story as she and her mother and sister try to carry on with their lives during the war, mourning the death of her father. And yet Alice’s story is also moving as she desperately searches for James.  Alice and Violet had not parted on good terms when Alice had left home to go on the hippy trail and I liked the way the two stories gradually came together and details of their lives became clearer.

I wrote about the opening paragraphs of this book in this earlier post.

Thanks to Penguin for providing a review copy of this book. I’m sorry to say that it has sat unread apart from the opening pages on my bookshelves since last year when I received it. This is one reason I’m reluctant sometimes to accept review copies – there are so many books clamouring to be read!

Joanna Rossiter has her own website where you can see a YouTube video of her reading from the beginning of the book and talking about her book. I hope she writes more books!

4 thoughts on “The Sea Change by Joanna Rossiter

  1. Interesting sounding book. I like books set in India but don’t read enough.
    I know what you mean about review books. I stopped for that reason too, and because every time I ‘had’ to read a review book it felt like an unpaid job.


  2. Enjoyed your review, and couldn’t agree more re accepting books to be read and reviewed – plus I feel horrendously guilty if I haven’t read and reviewed it within an appropriate time – resulting in reading, one of my greatest pleasures, becoming a chore, and that is definitely Not A Good Thing!


  3. Better late than never! Sounds like a book I would enjoy. I get books from NetGalley, not too many but some I can’t pass up and although I do appreciate the opportunity to read these sometimes it makes me feel bogged down and I end up feeling stressed about my reading. Nice review. I’ll see if my library has this.


  4. Margaret – This one sounds a powerful read. I respect authors too who are skilled at evoking times and places. Thanks for sharing.


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