Penny HancockOne winter's afternoon, Sonia opens the door of her beautiful riverside home to fifteen-year-old Jez, the nephew of a family friend. He's come to borrow some music. Sonia invites him in and soon decides that she isn't going to let him leave. As Sonia's desire to keep Jez hidden and protected from the outside world becomes all the more overpowering, she is haunted by memories of an intense teenage relationship, which gradually reveal a terrifying truth. The River House, Sonia's home since childhood, holds secrets within its walls. And outside, on the shores of the Thames, new ones are coming in on the tide...
WHSmith Edition now contains Exclusive Bonus material including...
Author Q & A
Reading Group Questions
Returning to the river
Richard: Another debut writer for the Richard and Judy Summer reads – and another stunning first-time novel. Tideline is a weird, kinky, sexual story about obsession and descent into madness.
Sonia is a what the French would describe as a woman of a certain age. She is attractive, prosperous, and outwardly perfectly normal. She leads a respectable, quiet life in her beautiful home by the Thames. She inherited The River House from her parents. It is rambling, comfortable, and enjoys stunning views. It also keeps a very nasty secret.
Sonia’s husband Greg is away and she is alone – until Jez drops by. Jez is fifteen. At a recent party at his parents’ house, Greg told Jez he owns a rare pop album. The boy, a huge fan of the artist, has come round to borrow it.
It is probably the worst decision of his life.
Sonia invites him inside and almost immediately, compulsively, tries to get the boy drunk. She offers him wine and when his back is turned, spikes it with whisky. She is overwhelmed by his presence: she thinks he is physically perfect – handsome, strong, masculine, and charming. And he reminds her of someone she once knew, many years before. Someone called Seb. Now slightly drunk herself, she tries to persuade Jez to stay.
‘It’s OK, Seb. You don’t have to go.’
‘My name. Jez, not Seb.’
Which really is the point he should have left.
Judy: This is truly sinister story, slightly reminiscent of Steven King’s Misery. Like the writer’s jailor in that story, Sonia is deeply disturbed. But no-one realises it; not her husband, not her daughter, Kit (currently away from home, like her father) and not Jez’s parents, who are friends of the family.
Even Jez fails to spot the warning signs. Having rendered him incapable with spiked drinks, Sonia insists he spend the night in the spare room. He passes out as she tucks him in and we have our first seriously disturbing moment: Sonia fantasises about undressing him before bending over and passing her nose over his head and neck. She spots a love bite from his girlfriend and kisses it, whispering: ‘It’s OK. I’ll keep you safe, I promise.’
And that’s just Chapter One.
Penny Hancock writes brilliantly about sexual obsession and repressed guilt. Seb, the boy Jez so resembles and who Sonia once loved, is a constant presence in The River House and in Sonia’s tortured mind. What happened to him? Where is he today, years after Sonia fell in love with him? And why is she so grimly determined never to leave her Greenwich home, in the face of her husband’s determination to sell it?
Tideline unfolds in real time, with Sonia going to increasingly extreme lengths to keep Jez her prisoner. Her ingenuity is impressive – it’s not easy to cage a strong and strong-willed teenage male – but she outwits all his attempt to escape. A gripping, sensual story that will have you turning the pages long after you should have put the light out.
Reviews & Comments
Richard and Judy's posts
05.07.2013 - Richard on his new novel Some Day I’ll Find You
Read the prologue and find out more about the twists and turns of Richard's debut novel here Read more
07.06.2011 - Tide Clocks and New Reads
Richard gives us a blog on his Have I Got News For You apperance and the joy of tide clocks! Read more
01.04.2011 - Eloise
For those of you wondering just what Judy has been up to the past few months, all can be revealed! Read more
22.03.2011 - New books to come and Dancing on Ice...
Richard's latest on the upcoming list of books being selected for the Summer season and Chloe's final skate on Sunday Read more
... Richard blogs on another busy week. Read more