Author’s debut novel hailed ‘Scotland’s best book’

Sarah Maine author. Picture: contributed
Sarah Maine author. Picture: contributed
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A debut novel about a woman who discovers the centuries-old remains of a murder victim on her crumbling ancestral home in the Outer Hebrides has been named Scotland’s book of the year by the retailer Waterstones.

Store managers across the country have voted The House Between Tides, by Sarah Main, as their favourite title four years after it was released by a small Scottish publisher.

Set on the remote island of North Uist, the book has previously been compared to the classic Daphne du Maurier novel Rebecca.

It charts the events which unfold when Hetty Devereaux heads north after the death of her last living relative and draws up plans to turn the Hebridean estate’s ruined house into a hotel.

However when she starts to roll out repairs at Muirlan she begins to unlock century-old secrets about the property, previously occupied by a renowned naturalist and painter, and his new bride.

The book was re-released earlier this year after being bought by publishing giant Hodder & Stoughton. It was published in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada before getting a major UK launch in June of this year.

The House Between Tides was first released by the now defunct Glasgow-based publisher Freight Books under the title Bhalla Strand.

Maine’s success echoes that of Peter May, creator of the Lewis trilogy, who was turned down by major UK publishers before securing a deal with a French firm.

The Waterstones’ Scottish Book of the Year honour is open to books written by authors based in Scotland, or titles that have “a strong Scottish setting”.

Angie Crawford, Waterstones Scottish buying manager, said: “This atmospheric novel, shrouded in mystery and rich with wild Scottish landscapes, cleverly weaves together the stories of two women whose lives are separated by a century.

“As soon as our booksellers read The House Between Tides we knew that this beautifully crafted novel would resonate strongly with our customers. We hope that this excellent novel receives all the attention it deserves and that it is enjoyed by as many readers as possible.”

Maine said: “I was thrilled to hear that The House Between Tides has been picked as Scottish Book of the Year. I’m so appreciative of their support for the book and for terrific championing of the lively world of books in Scotland.”

Inverness-born forensic scientist Professor Dame Sue Black last week won the Saltire Society’s Scottish Book of the Year title for her memoir on dealing with death.