A book about a Backpacking journey that goes so horribly wrong….
Greece 1980 – A young girl goes travelling alone and takes herself off to Greece where she enjoys exploring the islands and meeting new people.
She travels via Calais, Paris, before reaching Marseille. Some would say she should have turned back at this point. Before things really started going bad……
Travelling further to Milan, Athens and then finally to the island of Ikaria where she spends time with her two new friends Jake and Beattie. The party atmosphere is alive and well, the drink, the drugs and all that being young, free and single on a sun drenched island can entail.
But behind the backdrop of paradise, the dark clouds are descending…..
Present day London – Kate appears to have the perfect life. A husband, daughter and a happy home. But then someone from her past walks right in to this perfect set up and suddenly it doesn’t seem so perfect anymore.
For Kate has been hiding a secret for many years and when it threatens to spill out into her current life , she will go to any lengths to protect herself and her family.
When the two worlds collide, we are left wondering what on earth we would do to protect everything that we know and to keep hidden everything that we wanted to forget.
The journey begins….
The setting for me was one I was once very familiar with myself- young, free and single, with a backpack, staying in hostels on a whim, meeting people and becoming best friends within a day, eating new food and just going to a place because you like the name or ‘ just because you feel like it’. The sense of freedom and the feeling that you want to go and visit everything is brilliantly interwoven across every page.
Each of the places on Emma’s route is described – the trains, the struggle with the luggage, the people she meets on the way…..
It is when she gets to Ikaria that the adventures really begin….
I love books which have dual timelines – in this instance the past is in the form of journal entries – which is the perfect way to access someone’s thoughts and impressions of another time.
In fact one of her diary entries starts simply –
August 1980, no idea of the time. Paradise
Ikaria certainly sounds like a rugged sort of paradise –
On the top of the cliff is one lone tree. Some sort of oak I think. As it was growing, the wind must have pushed the trunk down and away from its roots.It looks like a giant hand clawing the earth.
But as people tend to do with travelling, sometimes the reality is different – a sign of things to come?
But when we arrived in the late afternoon, first impressions weren’t so great. We’d built Ikaria up to be some mythical idyll with whitewashed buildings and happy smiling locals who’d point us in the right direction. But, in fact, Agios Kirikos, the main port town struck us as pretty run down….
When you’re travelling everyday life is very different indeed, normal behaviour is different, lifestyle is different, a sense of adventure is all you care about…
I found myself sitting by Emma in that tavern, sleeping on the roof (yes I have done this!) , clambering up cliffs in the midday sun, (this too!) and wandering about ‘exploring’. I really wnat to go and drink metrio – a Greek coffee in the national gardens in Athens…
On a completely booktrail level, I smiled at many a moment when books were mentioned, in relation to location. Kate, husband for example remembers Corfu as
‘..My family and other animals with gorgeous italian girls thrown in ‘
As Emma is travelling, she is carrying a copy of Women’s Room about wild students and also The Greek Myths about ‘ The Creation of the World’
But I digress. Going back to Emma’s situation, it is the friends she meets along the way who will have the biggest impact on her travels –
Jake and Beattie are not the kind of people you really want to meet – It’s intriguing to see how Emma gets caught up with them for example and how they use her friendliness and easy going nature against her. Is Emma naive? Maybe, but Jake and Beattie totally exploit that.
Julia Crouch has woven a tale that is both shockingly believable and so close in many ways to what many of us will have or could have experienced ourselves. That is the shocker here -together with the twists and turns along the way, the examination of Jake and Beattie and their motivations is the real chiller here. And the fact it’s set on a sun baked island?
Horror always looks more horrific in paradise, right?
Then Kate discovers that her daughter now wants to go travelling and that she plans to go to Ikaria……..
The next chapter is entitled – Kate
Kate had nine days before Tilly’s departure
Published tomorrow, you can find out what happens then. But if you’d prefer to win one of two lovely copies that Julia gave to me after I’d fed her tea and cake at Booktrail towers, then feel free to like The Book Trail on Facebook by THIS SUNDAY 22nd JUNE at 5pm and two lucky people will win one!
With many thanks to Julia and Headline Publishers