Britten’s Four Sea Interludes form the backdrop for my novel Searching For Amber. The first movement: Dawn provides the opening scene of the novel on the brave, shingle beach at Aldeburgh.
“Under the fluid metal of a steel-blue sky, the body of a young woman strokes silently through the dawn waves.”
We soon learn that Jade, the swimmer is also a photographer, determined to complete her project to record the daily movement of the village. Her ambition whetted by the tales of the sea that she has found there. She meets two strangers on the beach, a young girl, who could have been her fifteen years ago, and an older man. A man she will encounter again as her story unfolds.
“Can I see a falling tear, and not feel my sorrow’s share?”
William Blake’s line open up the next phase of the story. Jade has now met Martin, the dark, brooding shipwright, who lives in a shadow-land of his own making. Half-seduced by his rough edge and determined to find out more about him, Jade sets out to discover the truth behind the disappearance of his sister after a family tragedy, twenty years ago. She is drawn on a calm Sunday morning to visit the local church, where she finds a plaque commemorating the loss at sea of a boat about the time of Martin’s sister’s disappearance. The vicar guides her to visit Thomas Ogilvie, who lives in a manor-house up the coast, to find out more about the story. But she is met by his obvious attempts to distract her from following the story.
Our story now moves on to Moonlight. It’s ten years on from their first meeting and Jade visits Martin at his home in Coggeshall. He is now a successful carpenter, she is equally successful as a magazine freelance photographer. But her visit reignites her earlier curiosity about his past. This time she is determined to see her project through, but in doing so begins to discover more about her own past too. So that her and Martin’s story become more and more intertwined.
The Storm, in which Martin’s father perished at sea, and was commemorated in the church now provides the resolution to the story. The tragic loss of the fishing boat set off a chain of events, between Martin’s sister Amber, Thomas Ogilvie and his brother Ralph that led to a further tragedy and Amber’s flight from the scene.
We discover the final truth in the last chapter Passacaglia, where Jade returns to the beach at Aldeburgh and the full story of who Amber really is unfolds.
“Under the fluid metal of a steel-blue sky, the body of a young woman strokes powerfully through freezing waves, her legs extended, the winter ice chilling her skin, her arms reaching for resolution in the evening air.”
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