A beautifully rendered family drama set in Dover, England, between the 1940s and the present day, The Last Wave follows the life of Martha, a woman who has swum the English Channel ten times, and the complex relationships she has with her husband, her children, and her close friends. The one constant in Martha’s life is the sea, from her first accidental baptism to her final crossing of the channel. The sea is an escape from her responsibilities as a wife and a mother; it consoles her when she is diagnosed with cancer; and it comforts her when her husband’s mind begins to unravel.
An intergenerational saga spanning six decades, The Last Wave is a wholly authentic portrait of a family buffeted by illness, intolerance, anger, failure, and regret. Gillian Best is a mature, accomplished, and compelling new voice in fiction.
GILLIAN BEST is a writer, swimmer, and seaside enthusiast. She won the Bronwen Wallace Award for Short Fiction and was a finalist for the Bridport Prize International Creative Writing Competition and Wasafiri’s New Writing Prize. She was also longlisted for the WriteIdea Short Story Prize. She has studied at York University, University College Falmouth, and the University of Glasgow. Originally from Waterloo, Canada, she now lives in Bristol, U.K.
“Those who liked The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will enjoy Gillian Best’s The Last Wave for its quiet, intense examination of a woman fleeing British familial agony for the sea’s thrilling embrace.” — Kathleen Winter, bestselling author of Annabel
“[The Last Wave is] literary and lucid, sketching out a compelling character through six decades worth of angst and illness.” — Toronto Life
“The novel is an ambitious undertaking for a first book, but Best is more than equal to the challenge. Martha is a complicated, relatable, fascinating character, and her swimming both evokes beautiful imagery and weaves a sophisticated, thematic line through the many years covered in the story.” — Open Book
“The characters in The Last Wave are layered, imperfect and real. Each is trapped by the confines of family life and yet by realizing enormous, seemingly impossible dreams, they ultimately set themselves free. It’s a brilliant illustration of how family relationships change and adapt in different stages of our lives — in childhood and parenthood, and through illness, failure, and success. Scenic and true-to-life, The Last Wave will inspire readers right up to the last page.” — Emily Urquhart, author of Beyond the Pale
“The Last Wave, like the sea that holds Martha in its grip, is both gently stirring and tumultuous, a harsh yet alluring voyage through the decades of a woman’s life.” — Foreword Reviews
“Thoroughly enjoyable.” — CBC Books
“In The Last Wave, Gillian Best shows us that in life, as in swimming the channel, we aren’t defined by one decision, but rather the decisions we must make over and over again with each stroke, each moment — who we want to be, how we want to be. The Last Wave is an elegant meditation on commitment and the many forms of love.” — Tanis Rideout, author of Above All Things
“Gillian Best makes a literary splash with her debut novel, The Last Wave. . . . her entirely convincing portrayal of the Roberts family and their many undercurrents show that she’s just beginning her journey as a fiction writer.” — Winnipeg Free Press
“As in the sea so in life, we are something submerged and fight to rise, sometimes carried and lifted by others to less shifting ground. In this deftly woven and haunting debut novel, Gillian Best brings us, in many voices an across and through time, those who are submerged and carried, who fight and rise.” — Tania Hershman, author of Some of Us Glow More than Others and My Mother Was an Upright Piano
“A rich portrait of one woman, her family and the undercurrents of life.” — Hello Canada