Blue Paper Cutouts
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Paper Leaves Cutouts

the shrew review

Paper Leaves Cutouts

the shrew review

Every Seventh Wave
By Tom Vowler

Set on the tempestuous Cornish coast, Tom Vowler's novel feels both quiet and grand at once. It contains a huge spectrum of entire lives as well as the wild and roaming expanse of the sea, but all this is captured so lightly, served only in snippets and moments, fleeting sights and smells, that he makes all of the beauty and terror manageable.


As Gavin Knight did so brilliantly in his non-fiction work, The Swordfish and the Star, the author delivers us Cornwall as a troubled landscape instead of an idyllic tourist trap, with many of the full-time residents struggling against poverty as the long-serving trades in the county suffer. This is perfectly symbolised by Hallam's hand-to-mouth fishing work and his crumbling B&B perched on a cliff-edge, inherited from his family as they gradually fell apart and soon to be consumed by the alternately violent and comforting sea, which has already consumed many of the characters in his story.


Hallam's history itself is a troubled landscape, as an earlier prison sentence makes itself known amongst memories of heartbreaking family tragedies, until his solitude is pierced by the arrival of Anca, after rescuing her from the clutches of the sea. Anca is another lost soul, tormented by her illegal crossing into the UK, only to be enslaved by the men who promised her a better life. Anca and Hallam manage to build an endearing relationship that becomes the novel's hopeful core, tainted by a background tension - a vague threat emanating from Hallam, that may or may not be justified. 


Tom Vowler straddles fear and grace, tension and calm, moral complexity and absolute truth on every page, tearing the reader in two as they glide between the bleakness and the wonder. It's a truly brilliant novel.



4 South Street



PL23 1AR

United Kingdom

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