- Author: Jan Ruth
- Published: May 2016 by Celtic Connections
- Category: Contemporary Fiction
The tragedy and comedy that is Jack’s life; secrets, lies, long lost loves and family ties.
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.
He packed in the job and acquired a car and a laptop. This opened up all kinds of opportunities to feed his obsession. No, it wasn’t that, he was retraining; Private Eye Banks. His daughter was out there somewhere, and either Jack or Patsy would eventually lead him to the pot of gold. The thought of seeing Chelsey had him in a lather of anticipation. Every time a car pulled up outside Patsy’s house, his hands shook and his bowels turned to water. But it was never her. Maybe she lived abroad or in London, she could be anywhere.
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.
The approach to Conwy was via a bridge across the river. After the endless grey ribbon of road, the sudden image of the decaying, medieval castle was strangely uplifting, as if it still offered a stronghold. There was a busy straggle of stone cottages around the quay, where boats plunged and reared in the fierce wind and choppy water. Wailing gulls circled the rigging or rode the foaming swell. Beyond the mouth of the estuary, away from the protection of the harbour, the open sea was dark and restless till it became one with the black horizon.The rain had stopped, and a dying winter sun brooded behind the mountains of Snowdonia.
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.
This book is reviewed for Rosie Amber‘s book review team and is based on a digital copy from the author. This does not affect my opinion or the content of my review.
About Jan Ruth
Jan Ruth writes contemporary fiction about the darker side of the family dynamic with a generous helping of humour, horses and dogs. Her books blend the serenities of rural life with the headaches of city business, exploring the endless complexities of relationships.
The real story began at school, with prizes for short stories and poetry. She failed all things mathematical and scientific, and to this day struggles to make sense of anything numerical.
Her first novel – written in 1986 – attracted the attention of an agent who was trying to set up her own company, Love Stories Ltd. It was a project aiming to champion those books of substance which contained a romantic element but were perhaps directed towards the more mature reader and consistently fell through the net in traditional publishing. Sadly, the project failed to get the right financial backing.
Many years later Jan’s second novel, Wild Water, was taken on by Jane Judd, literary agent. Judd was a huge inspiration, but the book failed to find the right niche with a publisher. It didn’t fall into a specific category and, narrated mostly from the male viewpoint, it was considered out of genre for most publishers and too much of a risk.
Amazon changed the face of the industry with the advent of self-publishing; opening up the market for readers to decide the fate of those previously spurned novels. Jan went on to successfully publish several works of fiction and short story collections and after a brief partnership with Access Press in 2015, has returned to the freedom of independent publishing.