Secrets and lies in Tasmania


Eva has only been married to Jackson for 8 months when he tragically drowns.

Having always been a bit of a closed book, Jackson has never really spoken of his past or of his family. so when Eva decides to visit his homeland of Tasmania she is exoecting to find things out about his that she didn’t know.

However, what she finds out shakes her to the core.

Just who was she married to? How well can you really know the person closest to you?

The Truth was it was all a lie.

That last line of the blurb really made me want to read this book. What on earth does it mean? Truth and lies mixed up like that? Well, I was intrigued and having loved Lucy’s previous book, The Sea Sisters, started reading immediately – all in one go – causing me to stay up and late and suffer from the mother of all book hangovers the day after….

Looking towards Adventure Bay from The Neck, Bruny Island, Tasmania, Australia
Looking towards Adventure Bay from The Neck, Bruny Island, Tasmania, Australia. Was this the view that Eva saw?

The setting, secrets and story reveals..

Setting is an integral part of any book and with A single Breath, it is as much a character as the others in the story. It is the sea in Dorset which sweeps Jackson away and which starts Eva’s journey across the world to Tasmania. Then the (fictional) setting of Wattleboon (in reality Bruny Island) came into its own with the remote locations, the rough sea, Saul’s shack and of course Jackson’s past.

The descriptions of the island, as Eva mental torment grows, are so stunning that they show the extent of her aguish even more – 

She located Shoal Bay in the south-east corner of the island.

The crossing only takes twenty-five minutes, but by the time the ferry docks, Eva feels as if she’s arriving at the edge of the earth.

This is a novel all about secrets and the power that both keeping them and discovering then dealing with them can have over us. I felt as if I was Eva myself asking myself all the questions she was  –  Why aren’t things as they seem? What was Jackson up to? How had he died? Why had he never spoken to his family?

Reading this book in one stretch was not difficult – there were more twists and turns than any thriller – in fact this was one heck of a thriller as there was no way of knowing what would happen next and just when I thought I knew, Lucy once again pulled out the rug from underneath me. 

The structure of A Single Breath was another one of its many strengths since Eva’s voice and inner thoughts were the focus. However there were moments when Jackson had his time in the spotlight – explaining or trying to explain his reasons and thoughts too – 

Like I said Eva, two years with you wasn’t long enough. But it was two years more than I deserved.

There is little more I can say about the book without giving away something which would spoil your enjoyment of it, so I shall instead, indulge my love of setting with a few choice things I think any booktrailer should look out for – 

The descriptions are STUNNING. As a reader, we get to go fishing and diving in Tasmania, meeting seadragons, trying freediving and finding out about the importance of the shack – 

Knock and let's see if Saoul answers shall we?
Knock and let’s see if Saul answers shall we?

Owning a shack is  Tassie thing. They’re bolt holes, a  place to disappear to when you’re craving some space, some wilderness’

Bruny Island on which Wattleboon is based truly must be stunning if these descriptions are anything to go by – 

A sea dragon
A sea dragon

As the seaweed sways, she notices a glimpse of colour ahead. She waits a moment for the seaweed to sir again – and then she sees it.

Her body fires with excitement at the other worldly sight: a sea dragon drifts before then. Its body is a reddish colour and looks as if it’s been lit from the inside, electric pinpricks of blue and yellow spotting and striping its surface.

This is a place I want to go, need to go, minus the secrets of course but there are the moments of the novel that I lingered, just as Eva did in the rare few moments when she took a moment to value her surroundings, knowing that what she saw was the only thing at the time that she knew wasn’t a lie. These surroundings brought her closer to Jackson and closer to the truth yet revealed so much that at times they were bittersweet.

Free diving
Free diving

The shack was perhaps the most lasting memory of what A Single Breath was about – having time to just ‘be’ to sit and think and to take time out from the lies of the world around us – 

Eva stands on the deck of the shack, breathing in the small so familiar to her now: salt air, eucalyptus, a briny tinge of seaweed. The bay is calm, a gentle breeze quivering over its surface. Large clumps of kelp lie on the shoreline like sleeping seals , and she imagined there must have been some strong winds while she’s been away.

A moment of calm in a sea of swimming lies, wrapping themselves around her and dragging her further down into an abyss…

What happens to Eva and what happened to Jackson is worth a visit to this stunning part of the world. Open the book and take the ferry to Bruny Island and enjoy a story of secrets, lies and a location so adept at revealing its many facets.

Lucy will be popping by tomorrow for a slice of a cake and a cuppa. Be sure to join us – there’s certainly enough cake to go round!