Turbulent Wake by Paul E. Hardisty Orenda Books March 21st 2019
A bewitching, powerful and deeply moving story of love, loss and grief. This extraordinary departure from the critically acclaimed thriller writer Paul E Hardisty explores the indelible damage we can do to those closest to us, the tragedy of history repeating itself and ultimately, the power of redemption in a time of change. Paul drew on his own experiences of travelling around the world as an engineer, from the dangerous deserts of Yemen, the oil rigs of Texas, the wild rivers of Africa, to the stunning coral cays of the Caribbean.
Ethan Scofield returns to the place of his birth to bury his father, with whom he had a difficult relationship. Whilst clearing out the old man’s house, he finds a strange manuscript, a collection of vignettes and stories that cover the whole of his father ’s turbulent and restless life.
As his own life unravels before him, Ethan works his way through the manuscript, searching for answers to the mysteries that have plagued him since he was a child. What happened to his little brother? Why was his mother taken from him? And why, in the end, when there was no one left for him, did his own father push him away?
Father, son, one dead, one still living. The son, Ethan works hard, strives for success yet fails, even in his personal life, his ex-wife looked down upon him, his daughter lacked respect. Was he set to follow his now dead father and face a life alone, estranged from those he loved and full of bitterness. It is as Ethan read his father’s newly discovered manuscripts that documented his life you could see the cogs in his mind as they began to turn, as he examined his own past, his present and indeed what could be his future.
Told in alternating chapters it was the father’s manuscripts that intrigued and enthralled and held me rapt. Hardisty opened up a whole world, from the gloom of London streets to the heat and dust of Africa. His vivid descriptions of the places visited were fantastically real, the heat and the beauty of them oozed from the pages.
If the scene setting was brilliant, the characters Hardisty presented us with were even more brilliant. We saw a man’s life laid bare on the blank pages, a life as an engineer, a husband, a father but one that saw him take risks, to put his own perhaps selfish needs first. You knew he adored and loved his wife Helena, yet Hardisty gave him a self destructive streak, as though what he had was too good to be true, as if he didn’t deserve it. His children Ethan and Adam felt secondary to his love for Helena and his work and his actions bore consequences that affected the rest of his life. You wondered if this was the reason for his apparent estrangement from Ethan, the manuscripts an explanation, maybe even an apology.
As each revelation unfurled you could see Ethan, withdraw into himself, shut himself off, as though it was all too much, as though it pointed the finger at him, that it touched nerves that were open and raw.
And this is what i loved about Hardisty’s narrative, the simultaneous unravelling of two lives, that he handled with great skill. He beautifully captured their emotion, their inner turmoil, he didn’t make us feel sorry for them, just made us see that our trajectory in life is up to us, of our own making, that it is us that had to live with the consequences and regrets.
Hardisty also gave us hope that no matter how bad life can get, there is always a means of turning it around, of making it better, even if that way is not clear.
I felt as if this novel was semi autobiographical, Hardisty’s life experiences, his work mirrored in the places and the characters, the imagery and emotion all the more real and believable.
I loved the inclusion of sustainability, of the ecology of the regions Warren visited, as if his need to protect them, to see into the future were his one redeeming feature, the reason we didn’t totally dislike him. In some ways I felt that it was his way of protecting the love and happiness that he shared with Helena in those places, clinging onto the last vestiges of a woman he adored before all was destroyed.
Turbulent Wake felt deeply personal, that Hardisty had poured his heart and soul into the words that he wrote. I am so pleased that he left the world of thrillers and crime to write Turbulent Wake, to showcase his obvious talent in the world of contemporary fiction and I do hope this will not be his last.
I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Turbulent Wake to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour
About the author
Canadian Paul E Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an
engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners of out Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science AIMS). The first four novels in his Claymore Straker series, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, The Evolution of Fear, Reconciliation for
the Dead and Absolution all received great critical acclaim and The Abrupt Physics of Dying was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and was a Daily Telegraph Thriller of the Year. Paul is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia.