Deep Water is a dark psychological thriller with a sailing couple at its heart. Absorbing, says Julia Jones

Deep Water
Emma Bamford
Simon & Schuster, £8.99 (released 7.7.22)

Deep Water, Emma Bamford’s first novel is well worth considering.

Bamford is already an accomplished writer and is not afraid to let her story take her into psychological depths.

She also has the experience as well as the imagination to write convincingly about life as a couple on a small boat – its dreams, its realities and the intense highs and lows of relationships.

Taking a step back to the story itself: Virginie and Jake are newly-weds beginning their life together in an elderly 36ft yacht in Malaysia.

Virginie, the story’s heroine, is emotionally scarred from a controlling previous marriage but doesn’t seem to have lost the credulity which makes her dangerously likely to take a suave good-looking man at face value.

Fortunately, her new husband Jake is loving and dependable, though with a few personality quirks of his own.

Continues below…

Communal life on the superficially idyllic island of Amarante with two and a half other sailing couples exposes them both to the unrelenting glare of the sun and their own hidden weaknesses.

Amarante is paradise with a serpent at its heart.

Any experienced reader, possibly remembering Lord of the Flies as the quintessential island novel, will be expecting something of this sort as well as the likely implosion of personal relationships within the community.

Bamford’s writing skill ensures that following the process is absorbing even when one wants to shake the heroine out of her naivety.

The main action of the novel comes within an enclosing rescue narrative.

I wasn’t sure whether the central story would have been more powerful if one had followed the disintegration of the dream stage by stage without any prevision.

Perhaps it’s a reassurance that there can still be redemption from tragedy.

Don’t pack this book if you’re planning on extending your honeymoon cruise to a suspiciously deserted tropical island with grave mounds in the jungle…

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