When Marion's mother is silenced, first by a stroke, and then by death, she is left confronting the chaotic detritus of a life obsessively devoted to art. she has left it too late to ask the crucial questions about scenes confusedly remembered from her childhood, and above all about the identity of her own father, 'lost in the war'. Out of the hundreds of paintings in her mother's studio, one, a portrait of a young man, is inscribed 'For Marion'. Is this her father? And who was he?
Marion's search takes her to the Cornish town of St Ives. In the remote and closeknit town where communities of fisherfolk and artists have coexisted for many years, she learns of a tragedy which is intrinsically tied up with her father's life. Over fifty years before, the St Ives lifeboat went down with all hands bar one. Marion must delve deep into the past to discover the identity of a man she never knew,a nd in so doing confront the demons which have tortured her own adult life.
The Serpentine Cave is an imagined story containing a true one - a powerful novel about memory and loss, birth and rebirth, and past regrets which still have the power to plague the present.
Booker-finalist Walsh's (Knowledge of Angels) engaging novel of sensibility winds through the labyrinth of one woman's emotional self-discovery (and a bit of British history) on the way to its rather tidy conclusion. When Marian Easton's artist mother, Stella, dies of a stroke, Marian must settle her affairs. Armed only with some of Stella's paintings and her own fragmented, bitter memories of a nomadic and bohemian childhood, Marian aims to unravel her past and look for the identity of the father she never knew. Her quest leads her to the coastal fishing village and artists' colony of St. Ives, where Stella enjoyed her greatest professional success--and where she inadvertently affected the outcome of the town's historic lifeboat disaster in 1939. Gradually, Marian's discoveries about her eccentric mother fill her with deep regret--and a strong resolve not to repeat her mother's mistakes with her own adult children. Walsh bathes this contemporary tale in dreamy, evocative descriptions of her native Britain, past and present; but, in her attempts to put the true story of 1939 to service as fiction, she sacrifices potentially interesting characters to the exigencies of plotting.