'A beautifully written and intriguing story that stayed with me long after I had turned the last page' Santa Montefiore.
'I wanted to live in this story. Jane Johnson writes with such grace and ease' Carol Drinkwater.
One house, two women, a lifetime of secrets...
Following the death of her mother, Becky begins the sad task of sorting through her empty flat. Starting with the letters piling up on the doormat, she finds an envelope post-marked from Cornwall. In it is a letter that will change her life forever. A desperate plea from her mother's elderly cousin, Olivia, to help save her beloved home.
Becky arrives at Chynalls to find the beautiful old house crumbling into the ground, and Olivia stuck in hospital with no hope of being discharged until her home is made habitable.
Though daunted by the enormity of the task, Becky sets to work. But as she peels back the layers of paint, plaster and grime, she uncovers secrets buried for more than seventy years. Secrets from a time when Olivia was young, the Second World War was raging, and danger and romance lurked round every corner...
The Sea Gate is a sweeping, spellbinding novel about the lives of two very different women, and the secrets that bind them together.
'I was completely swept up in this ... Quite magical' Rachel Hore.
'I can't recommend it highly enough' Katie Fforde.
'I so enjoyed this. It's a treat!' Amanda Craig.
'A beautiful, evocative story ... This had me in tears' Liz Fenwick.
Johnson (The Tenth Gift) spins an irresistible epic history of one family in Cornwall, England. After Becky discovers a letter sent to her recently deceased mother by a 90-year-old cousin, Olivia, asking for help, Becky heeds the call and travels to Cornwall, where the authorities want to send Olivia to an assisted-living facility. At Olivia's decrepit old house, Becky is greeted by a foul-mouthed parrot (" Fuck off,' he says, so quietly it is almost an endearment"). As the days unfold through visits with Olivia at a nearby hospital, Becky discovers a kindred spirit in her elderly cousin, a painter whose work was renowned, but whose identity has been cloaked by the initials OK for decades. Seamlessly toggling back and forth between Becky's point of view and Olivia's, the story shifts from WWII Cornwall to the present day and takes an intriguing turn when Becky discovers a human bone in Olivia's basement. Parts of the story are tough to take an intellectually disabled child's rape by a Nazi during WWII is particularly stomach-churning though the villains are dispatched in suitable fashion. Johnson keeps the narrative speeding along, underpinning her tale with a large supporting cast, among them a housecleaner who secretly doses Olivia's tea with rat poison and a builder who ties up the last of Olivia's mysteries. Johnson's powers of description evoke the setting's living history and brings it to brilliant life. This sweeping saga is a must-read.