3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I’ve been having a bit of a tough time recently, and have been struggling to enjoy my reading. And this wonderful series was everything I wanted it to be – it’s taken me a ridiculous length of time to read at a few chapters a night, but on those days when everything was just too much to cope with, I can’t begin to tell you the pleasure it gave me to escape to Snowdonia and Jack Redman’s complicated life.
I thought Jack was just wonderful. But he’s certainly not a conventional romantic hero. First of all, he’s an estate agent – now how can an estate agent be a hero? And his life is desperately complicated – he has all the trappings of the perfect life with the trophy wife, the Cheshire mansion, the three perfect (well ok, not quite…) children, the nurturing parents.
But then things begin to fall apart – in spectacular style, as the cracks in the perfect picture begin to widen and the story becomes one of a flawed but lovely man desperately trying to keep afloat as life throws everything at him. On top of everything else, he then finds himself shuttling between the Cheshire branch of the agency and the other branch in North Wales when his father falls ill. There he meets again the wonderful Anna, his childhood love, an artist living in a remote farm amid the beautiful Snowdonia countryside, who is also finding life difficult to cope with.
I read Wild Water first, and separately – and that book establishes the characters (and what wonderful characters they are).and hooks you into Jack’s life. Dark Water and Silent Water – which I read back to back – take everything in a quite unexpected direction, as lies and dangerous secrets threaten to blow everything apart. And the story really does become very dark indeed – a compulsive read, dramatic and emotional, as characters you thought you knew act in ways you never would have expected.
Jack himself is a wonderfully complex character – impulsive, quick to anger, slow to forgive, and his actions sometimes drive the story into uncomfortable places. He’s also tender, loving, a wonderful father – and 100% human, authentic and believable. He keeps your sympathy throughout – although it must be said that he does test your patience at times.
It’s not just Jack though – the author really has created a wonderful cast of characters. I adored Anna with her inner strength and outward insecurity, her confidence in some situations and her total inability to cope in others. The young people are particularly excellent – especially young playboy Oliver and his frighteningly precocious girlfriend (complete with costumes and tail…), and the wonderful Lottie with her sassiness and inimitable style. And Patsy, Jack’s scheming wife, is a magnificent creation – she creates chaos with her every action, and perpetual angst for Jack, but is never less than completely and horrifically believable. Every single character, however peripheral, is vividly real in all their actions and frailties, from the staff at the estate agents’ to the many friends and family members. And I loved some of the smaller cameos too, like Patsy’s horrendous boyfriend, and Clarissa and “the boys”…
All human life is here – the darkness, the joys, the day to day challenges, the sadnesses, and plenty of the funny side too. In fact, I should mention the humour, quite perfectly judged – much of it coming from Lottie, but I particularly enjoyed some of the situations stemming from Jack’s flat sharing.
And then, underpinning it all, there’s the setting. I remember the author’s vivid descriptions of the landscape of Snowdonia from when I read Silver Rain, and again this story is largely set against the background of that breath-taking scenery, quite magnificently described in its wild beauty and majesty.
I very rarely have the opportunity to work my way through a trilogy, but I’m so glad I did – this collection was simply wonderful, and I enjoyed every single moment I spent in its hold.
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Wild Water begins the story of Jack Redman who works in the Cheshire branch of his family’s very successful estate agency business. To all outward appearances he has it all, the up market car, the big house, a beautiful, if high maintenance, wife and three lovely children. But Jack’s life is thrown into turmoil when Patsy, his selfish and materialistic wife, admits to an affair and leaves the family home with their younger daughter. Jack has felt something was amiss for a while but certainly wasn’t expecting the train wreck which was now his life. And things were getting worse. His father has had a health scare leaving Jack to run both the Cheshire and North Wales branches. Jack is run ragged and very unhappy. Meeting up with Anna, his first love, in Wales, when she lists her farm for sale is the only thing keeping him sane.
In Dark Water Jack and Anna seem poised on the brink of a life together, and Anna’s artistic talent is about to be recognised. But then the past rears its ugly head in the shape of Simon Banks, Patsy’s ex-lover and the father of her first child. He is unstable and a danger to everyone’s peace of mind, determined to be a part of his daughter’s life, regardless of how it impacts on the rest of the extended Redman family.
Anna is feeling overwhelmed and unsure in the aftermath of Jack’s decisions, and their lives become ever more complicated. As the strain intensifies they both make mistakes which causes uncertainty and misunderstandings between them, culminating in a disastrous incident which comes back to haunt them and add to the confusion and turmoil of their lives.
Silent Water sees Jack’s impulsiveness and, mostly unwise, ways of dealing with the ongoing crises continue to threaten his and Anna’s lives together, despite his good intentions. The spectre of Simon Banks is never far away and Jack’s future looks bleak and uncertain. Anna isn’t content to let Jack deal with everything anymore, and takes more control over her life and career. As Patsy’s misery deepens into depression she becomes more calculating than ever, causing havoc without a second thought. It’s seeming less and less likely that Jack and Anna will be able to achieve a happy ever after ending to their turbulent lives.
A story driven by characters who are all very well drawn and real, with deep and complex issues. Their lives are interwoven seamlessly and full of emotional ups and downs. Funny, loveable Jack, who I couldn’t help but sympathise with, while at the same time wanting to shake some sense into him. He cares about those people who matter to him above all else, and wants to do what he believes is best for them. More often than not though, it backfires and makes the situation even worse. Anna, likeable, independent and warm-hearted, never really got over her feelings for Jack, and seeing him again brings back long buried emotions. I was particularly moved reading the scene with Anna and Benson, the labrador. On the other side of the coin is Patsy, manipulative and selfish with no regard for others’ feelings, even her own children. She will go to any lengths to get what she wants. Lottie, and the humorous back and forth dialogue between her and Jack, is brilliant especially as she approaches puberty.
I love the North Wales setting, which Jan Ruth describes in rich and beautifully evocative detail, with a vivid and visual writing style.
An excellent plot which veers into darker territory, giving it an extra layer of tension, depth and drama. The complicated relationships between a great and diverse mix of characters, are credible and feel true to life, portrayed in such a way as to provide an opportunity to experience emotions from the individual’s point of view. The pacing is perfect, allowing the narrative to become continuously more gripping. A wonderfully compelling trilogy, told with humour, compassion and an understanding of the complexities of life and relationships. Great twist at the end too.