Freya McPherson’s husband and young son disappear at sea in what looks like a freak accident. A year later, Freya returns to their light-house keeper’s cottage on a remote Hebridean island to try to pick up the pieces of her life again. But the cottage is filled with memories of happier times and Freya is haunted by dark and disturbing dreams, which blend, both her present and her past, and where she experiences such a huge sense of loss, that her life, on waking, is filled with despair.
This is a dark and disturbing story about the power of a mother’s grief, and of the overwhelming sense of desolation when everything in life seems to be without substance. Freya is a highly intelligent woman but, like all who are grief stricken and lonely, she lingers in a dark place, caught between hope and despair, and desperately clings to the possibility that one day she will get the answers to her husband and son’s shadowy disappearance. Interspersed within Freya’s tale, are snippets of seventeenth century letters which tell of another mysterious disappearance. In 1653, Oliver Cromwell sent a flotilla of ships to Scotland to dispel royalist support in the highlands. Soldier, Edward writes longingly to his lover, Josie, of his dreams and hopes for their future together, but then his ship, the Speedwell mysteriously disappears.
I was completely hooked on the story from the beginning and felt like I was really immersed in Freya’s life. The aching loneliness she feels and the unbearable lack of answers to so many questions makes this a story that reaches out to you, so that you get an emotional connection to the characters. I enjoyed the intermingled stories, and felt that the author did a great job in bringing two very different story strands together, so that by the conclusion of the story everything comes together nicely.
Beyond the Sea is a lovely mixture of past and present, with cleverly interconnected snippets of myth and legend, and is well worth reading , not just for the story, which is excellent, but also for the way in which the stark beauty of the Hebrides come gloriously to life.