Reviewed by Toni Woodruff
A lush literary romance of love and regret
Like Wuthering Heights, this sweeping romance novel is a love story of tragic characters.
Guilt stifles. It is elusive and hard to predict. Meriel hasn’t been painting for long, but the solitariness of it solaces her. She paints by the sea and feels one with nature, which is something she hasn’t been able to feel with another person for quite some time. She is estranged from her son Philip and has no real companion except for her friend Angela, a young, bubbly woman who lives in town.
Meriel has resigned herself to a quiet life in this English seaside, until she meets Samuel. With this mysterious man’s arrival, Meriel’s life begins to shift, and she will have to face the guilt that drove her to this isolated state years ago.
Meriel, Philip, and Samuel try to find in each other a way to fill the void in their damaged lives. All of them dwell heavily on their past and let it eat away at their consciences and personal lives. The author sets us up for the classic redemption story—they are all, in one form or the other, looking to heal.
Author Krisztina Csiki does a beautiful job of capturing melancholy and isolation here. It takes a powerful writer to create so many flawed characters in pain like this while still leaving room for beauty and pleasure. The flourishing prose paints the scene with lush and at times vivid description.
While the descriptive prose provides a sort of palpable atmosphere in which to lay each scene, it also occasionally acts as a hindrance to the clarity and goals of this love story. Character motivation can feel muddled amidst the sweeping language, and the genuineness of their attraction and desire for one another can fall behind as a result.
There are some really wonderful poetic sequences in here though. These may be worth checking out the novel all on their own. Yet, this doesn’t make for the easiest read. The perspective can shift unexpectedly and require a re-read for deeper clarity, but amidst the difficulties, it’s true that when the prose hits, it really hits.
A Walk By the Sea is a supremely promising novel, especially in terms of what can be found in the prose and the nuances of isolation. The introspective and woeful mood offer hints of love stories we’re attached to, and with this book, readers can have the opportunity to discover a promising voice with a future that just might shine.
Genre: Literary / Romance
Print Length: 324 pages
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