From the bestselling author of Above All Things and inspired by real events, this powerful novel follows two families brought together to reckon with what it means to make amends—for historic wrongs and the wrongs we commit against the ones we love.
In the early 1800s, a Nova Scotian couple arrives on the shores of an island in the Oceanic archipelago of what is now known as Vanuatu to convert the local Indigenous peoples. The arrival of these strangers leads to exchange and friction, cooperation and violence, culminating in a catastrophe the missionaries unwittingly unleash on the island.
Two hundred years later in Toronto, the Stewarts are a family locked in mourning after the accidental drowning of their youngest son. When Michelle Stewart receives an unexpected call from the island of Iparei inviting the Stewarts to participate in a reconciliation ceremony for their respective ancestors, she accepts in a desperate effort to save herself and her family.
On Iparei, we meet the Tabés, a ni-Vanuatu family who are themselves mourning the death of a child in the aftermath of a devastating cyclone, while worrying over the looming departure of another. As the ceremony approaches, the Tabés and the Stewarts will uncover their shared losses and failings, their fragile hopes for what a better future might hold, and the wounds that stand in the way of freeing themselves from the legacy of past betrayals.
Heart-wrenching, thought-provoking, and morally complex, The Sea Between Two Shores immerses us in the lives of two families connected as much by their desire for healing as by the actions of their ancestors. It is an extraordinary meditation on the complications of history, the possibilities for redemption, and the meaning of the stories we tell ourselves.
About the author
TANIS RIDEOUT’s internationally acclaimed first novel, Above All Things, was a national bestseller, named to numerous best books of the year lists, and published in several languages around the world. It was awarded the Premio ITAS del Libro di Montagna and was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her new novel is The Sea Between Two Shores. She is also the author of the poetry collection Arguments with the Lake, and, in 2006, she was named the “Poet Laureate for Lake Ontario” by the environmental advocacy group Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. Born in Belgium, she grew up in Bermuda and in Kingston, Ontario, and now lives in Los Angeles.
“Her voice both intimate and wise, Tanis Rideout traverses the textures and echoes of grief, asking difficult and important questions: How does loss imprint itself upon our hearts? Can we find meaning through forgiveness? What is it to both respect our histories and write a future of integrity and compassion? Her language is poetic, her vision resonant. This book speaks powerfully to the challenges we all confront.”
—Vincent Lam, author of The Headmaster’s Wager
“In this gorgeously written, carefully researched novel, Tanis Rideout brings to vivid life a remote island community as it copes with the arrival of a pair of missionaries, and then as both parties’ descendants, two hundred years later, seek to reconcile the aftermath of that earlier engagement. A thoughtful, absorbing meditation on loss and the resiliency of the human spirit.”
—Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Painted Girls