When Louise Fenton flies to Thailand to find her mother, Nora, after the Boxing Day tsunami, she fears the worst when the only trace she can find is her mother’s distinctive bag. In the bag is a beautifully crafted atlas owned by travel journalist Claire Shreve, with her notes and mementos slipped in-between the pages. The journal tells the story of Claire’s struggle to find her place in the world following a life-altering revelation, and a tumultuous love affair.
Louise treks across Thailand’s scarred landscape, exploring Claire’s atlas to try to make sense of the connection between this woman and the mother she is so desperate to find.
As devastated people are beginning to put their lives back together, Louise uncovers the secrets that nearly destroyed Claire and the man she loved – the same secrets her mother has been guarding all these years …
This book has such a beautiful cover but from the blurb, I was intrigued to find out how the author was going to tackle the subject matter (the story is set around the tsunami that happened in 2004.)
Told from the point of view of two seemingly unconnected women, Louise and Claire, the story immediately drew me in. It does jump around between the two storylines but this helped build up the mystery and suspense – that urge to keep turning the page as I wanted to know what would happen. I particularly resonated with certain aspects of Claire’s life.
There were parts of this novel that were very sad and which I found quite hard to read (Claire’s problems with fertility and from the beginning, you know that at least one of the characters does die,) but there are also moments of joy within the story too. There are twists and turns (a couple which actually had me gasping out loud in shock,) as the story unravels and it becomes clearer as to how these two women are connected as you progress through the novel. There is one major plot twist toward the end that I didn’t see coming.
To begin with, it seems as though there is a lot going on within the plot but everything is tied together very well. It does a good job at exploring those life altering moments and how they have a ripple effect throughout the rest of your life. It explores love, secrets and betrayal as well as forgiveness.
The scenery and atmosphere described in the book is done well (it’s noticeable that Tracy has travelled.) I could see it playing out like a movie as I was reading it.
If you are a fan of Lucy Clarke’s novels, then I think you’ll love this debut from Tracy Buchanan. I know I loved it. I am very much looking forward to a second novel from Tracy.
The Atlas of Us is available in e-book from Amazon. You can also pre-order the paperback which is due to be released by Avon on 31st July.
Find out more about Tracy at tracybuchanan.co.uk
Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.