Blog Tour: Read an Extract from Time's Tide by Adrian Harvey @Ade_Harvey @UrbaneBooks @lovebooksgroup

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The new novel from the bestselling author of Being Someone and The Cursing Stone. 

A father and son struggle to overcome the distance between them. Each is drawn irresistibly to an unforgiving landscape, one that has been the scene of tragedy and loss.

The son's return to the northern shore he abandoned as a young man promises the chance to heal the rift. But is it too late?

Arni left his remote corner of Iceland as soon as he could, seeking opportunities beyond winter and fishing. Married to an English woman, he builds a life as a successful scientist but can never quite escape the pull of the West Fjords and bleak landscape of his birth, nor shake the guilt he feels towards his distant father.

When Eirikur goes missing, he sets off to find him on a windswept spit of land lost in an angry ocean.

Time's Tide is a compelling and beautifully written story of loss, belonging and the silence between fathers and sons.  

Extract:

2008

The blunt voices downstairs barely bubbled up through the carpet, but he sat listening for a moment or two in any case, deathly still so as not to dampen them further. The late spring sun cut into the bedroom, bringing with it the sound of songbirds chattering in the garden. A car’s engine rumbled to a halt somewhere in the Close. He thought he heard an aeroplane scraping across the sky.

The now dead phone still lay in his hand and Árni roused himself sufficiently to return it to its cradle. The sound of the duvet rustling beneath him, the bed grumbling at the shifting weight, the dull plasticity of the point where the handset met its base: all these erased the slow breathing of the world outside, made his immediate surroundings solid once more. He was wholly in Cambridge once again.
His wife was laughing now, enjoying an unheard joke made by one of the children, or perhaps by Chloe. The girl had been babysitting for them for years now, since Ben was small, and he wondered whether it was his wife’s affection that kept her employed, even though their youngest was already at school. Freyja was almost the same age now as Chloe was when she had first sat for them, and she would be quite capable of looking after her little brother. Árni had had neither sitter nor sibling to watch over him, and when his mother was busy he had learned to fend for himself. His grandmother had led him to school on his first day, but he had then been left to find his own way, gradually picking up friends to accompany him. The memory of his grandmother, and of the care of his mother, chastened him, reminded him that he had not been so self-reliant, so independent, after all. In any case, as he had just said to his father, things were different here. 

He smoothed his trousers to the knee and stood up. The dressing table mirror showed a man he only barely recognised. Older, of course, with lines crowding about his eyes, but it was the trace of defeat that ghosted those eyes that troubled him most. Even on his birthday last year, there had been a bright-eyed optimism, despite the flecks of grey, the slackening jaw line. But this was the last year of his thirties and that truth had arrived with renewed malevolence during the phone conversation that had just ended. His father’s evident decline was as a premonition, a marker to his own mortality. Árni twisted a knot into his tie as if wrapping his own noose. 

Below, there was the sound of a television igniting, music and squeaking voices that set his teeth on edge even at this distance.  Then came footsteps on the stairs, the creaking boards of the landing and the tightening of the doorknob. 

‘Are you almost ready, sweetheart?’

Charlotte was already retying the tie, brushing something from his lapel, smiling. All of it irritated him, confirmed that this evening would give him no pleasure, would be a thing to endure.  They were his friends of course, people he liked, at least in theory. And the restaurant was perhaps his favourite place to eat in Cambridge. But there was something about the eagerness of his wife’s smile, the quaver in his father’s voice, and the sense of time passing that sucked all the anticipation from the party. He watched her study him.

‘What’s up? Everything OK with Eric?’

He had never liked the way that she did not even try to pronounce his father’s name correctly, anglicising its subtlety into two blunt syllables. She had encouraged the children to use it too, rather than grandpa or, even better, afi. They saw very little of him, so they had never had the opportunity to develop the flavour of the word. But still, the word ‘Eric’ on the lips of his children seemed presumptuous, disrespectful, too removed from their origins.

‘He’s OK, I think. Well, no, not really. He sounds… vague. I think he is finding it hard without mum.’

Árni was still finding it hard without Hrefna, and he had not lived in the same country as his mother for seventeen years. Simply the knowledge of her abstract absence was enough to cast a shadow across his days when stirred unbidden into being, like a half-remembered song. He could only imagine the extent of his father’s loneliness.

‘Well, it’s only been a couple of years. Of course he’ll still be grieving for her. Did you thank him for the card?’

Despite the distance, Árni had always received a card and present from his parents at each birthday since he had left home for university, even when he had traded Reykjavík for Cambridge.  It had usually been a book: there were not that many shops in Ísafjörður, the nearest town of any size to the village from which he had bolted. But now, with his mother gone, there was just the card, the heartfelt greeting written in a shaking hand. It was the same design as the year before. Árni wondered if his father ever made it out of Bolungarvík these days. 

‘Yeah, of course. He didn’t remember sending it, to be honest. And… well, he forgot a couple of times why I was calling at all.’

Charlotte’s frown passed in an instant, but even fleeting affirmation cut him to the stomach. It wasn’t just his overreaction; Charlotte thought it too, if only as one of many possibilities. The stroke of her palm on his cheek steadied him and he felt renewed gratitude for her presence. Unlike his father, he was not alone.


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