Review of ‘Against the Tide’ by John F.Hanley

An excellent novel from Jersey-born John F.Hanley. The prose is crisp, the characters well-defined and the historical setting of pre-Occupation Jersey sketched with remarkable attention to detail. As a protagonist Jack Renouf is both believable and likeable, and I found myself genuinely gripped by his dealings with the novels’ central characters – flighty siren Caroline, rival love interest Rachel and red Uncle Fred, whose horrific experience at the hands of fascists leads the novel into darker waters. The main thrust of the plot – smuggled Nazi diamonds – is well worked out, even if its introduction is left a little late in proceedings, though I did find myself struggling a little towards the end with the multitude of characters involved in the resolving melee. The action is welcome, however, as are the surprises awaiting, and it is to Hanley’s credit that the main twist, when it comes, was both unexpected yet credible.

The book’s title is a clever metaphor for the rebellious movements of its heroes as they set their shoulders against the inevitable surge of Hitler’s war machine. It is also a nod to the sea, which – as any islander can attest – is everywhere. Renouf is a swimming champion, Rachel and Caroline competitive divers, and much of the novel is set in the cold and choppy waters of the Channel. Love is made, shots are fired and minds made up within the brine, and the immersion is a welcome one – I can’t think of a novel that I’ve read in recent times that so completely captures the essence and influence of the sea on a fictional psyche. Dive in.

Updated: March 28, 2014 — 9:26 am

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  1. I am glad to hear praise from someone who knows the place first hand. What a great review for this exceptional novel!

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