A Jealous Tide
A novel by Anna MacDonald
A restless woman upends her world, abandoning her domestic inertia to seek refuge in a foreign hemisphere. Purposefully unsettled on the labyrinthine streets of London, she assembles a new routine amid the afterglow of a story from a century earlier. A traumatised widow, doubly bereaved, threw herself into the icy Thames. A shell-shocked soldier, heading home from war, gave himself to the depths to save her. Now disoriented by slippages in time as well as place, the woman begins imagining her own presence in the lives of these two strangers entwined by fate. But as her days blur together, as her intrigue becomes obsession, and as her sympathies grow to encompass all manner of souls lost to water — drowned, shipwrecked, cast adrift, or driven to the poles of the planet — she feels her restlessness returning with all the power of a tide in flood.
In this mesmerising début novel, Anna MacDonald finds a language of perpetual motion for an almost static experience of interior life. Lyrical, lilting, and melodious, her gentle words rise into rhythms that surge forth, then break and recede, leaving treasures in their wake. Hers is the poetry of alienation embodied: corporeal and sensory, spatial and recursive, making magic from a tilt of the head, a turn of the gaze, a stride, a halt, an interplay of gesture and orientation. In her dizzying proliferation of spirals and orbits, trajectories and bearings, her every sentence is a search for traction on a world that bewilders anew with every daily revolution.
Anna MacDonald is a writer and bookseller based in Melbourne, Australia, and a Splice masthead contributor. She has previously reviewed for 3 AM Magazine and the Sydney Review of Books, and she also writes for the Australian Book Review. Her collection of essays, Between the Word and the World, was published by Splice in 2019.