What the critics say
Sea of Whispers
They told her she was a dreamer, that the pictures she saw were an illusion, that sea glass could not tell a story; but this was a different kind of story . . .
Hetty’s always been a loner, haunted by loss and at odds with the community on the remote island of Mora. But when a small boat crashes upon the rocks, she is the first to help with the search for survivors. There is only one: a frail old woman, barely alive. But disaster comes with her and it is clear to many that the woman is the bringer of evil prophesied by old Per.
But Hetty defends her. She has seen the woman's face before when it darkened a piece of sea glass and now she sees new images that tell of the woman's past and a burden too great to bear – and something of her own pain too, something she's sensed in the whispers from the sea. Even now she can hear them, calling her. As the islanders grow hostile, Hetty knows what she must do.
"Sea of Whispers
, like most of my stories, began long before I put down any words. I started writing the novel in 2011 but the images of sea glass that haunt the dreams of fifteen-year-old Hetty came many years before that when I was on holiday on the island of Bryher in the Scillies and my wife said that she wanted to go down to the beach to see if there was any sea glass worth collecting.
There weren't any decent pieces – just a few nondescript shards from a broken bottle which we left on the sand – but as we walked about the beach searching, a picture slipped into the story-making part of my mind: of beautiful sea glass washed up on the shore; and then I forgot about it and went away and for several years wrote other stories. By the time 2011 had come along and Hetty's story was whispering inside my head and demanding to be written, I found that the pictures of sea glass had returned, together with echoes from my life that I knew would affect the way I approached the book.
The novel took a long time to write, there were many different drafts, and the mystical, elegiac nature of the story made it an emotional tale to tell. Hetty is a strong-minded yet highly sensitive girl and I found myself anxious to do her justice as she struggles to come to terms with her ancient grief, conquer her doubts and stand up to those who mock her. Sea of Whispers
is about many things – fear, prejudice, love, loss, hope and more – but ultimately it is the story of a young girl's courage and her quest to understand the deepest mystery of all."
‘Sea of Whispers
is a strong, strong story....elegiac, beautifully written with Bronte-esque descriptions of the wild power of the sea.’ Jill Murphy, Bookbag
'An evocative, mysterious new novel.' Fiona Noble, The Bookseller
‘The writing in Sea of Whispers
is simple, straightforward and often beautiful – landscapes, characters, events are all brought vividly to life. The pacing is brilliant too, scenes of intense activity or high emotion intercut with much slower-burning sequences. ...Just as important is Bowler’s understanding of how tough it is to be stuck between childhood and being an adult. It’s almost worth being a teenager again to enjoy books like his.’ Tony Bradman, The Guardian
‘Highly atmospheric.’ Books for Keeps
‘Compelling, haunting and mysterious.’ Booktrust
‘Sensitive readers who appreciate the genuine gift – and art – of storytelling, impressive style of writing and a deep concept behind a wise and important story, will fall in love with this book.’ School Librarian
‘Tim Bowler’s writing is spare and beautiful, and Sea of Whispers
sweeps the reader along to a satisfying and touching ending.’ Katherine Langrish, Armadillo Magazine
‘A very touching story. Reading this book was like a breath of fresh air.’ The Guardian
Sea of Whispers is a seafaring adventure and mystery story with an evocative island setting. It introduces a young woman whose affinity with things that cannot be explained set her apart from her community and encourages readers to explore questions such as:
How an isolated community can dwell on its past to a dangerous extent and be influenced by a few powerful individuals.
The effects of being cut off from outside influences.
How the arrival of an outsider can reveal all the prejudices and weaknesses of a community.
How the enduring power of love and the courage to follow one’s instincts can overcome even deeply engrained prejudice.
Click on the link below for activities designed to explore these questions.
Sea of Whispers Teacher's Notes
This page last updated: 25/04/2013