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The Tide Mill

Richard Herley

The setting is feudal Sussex in the thirteenth century, a landscape and society that have changed almost beyond recognition. The power of the Church is at its zenith; yet the King, ruling by divine right, is sovereign, above all.

Ralf Grigg is the young son of a master carpenter whose business fails when Ralf is small. The family have come to live in the seaside village of Mape, where Ralf’s mother was born.

Ralf’s solitary evening walk along the sea-wall is interrupted by the distant sight of someone – a boy of about his own age – trapped in the mud of the saltmarshes. The tide is flooding. There is no time to fetch help.

The decision Ralf makes in that moment has profound and far-reaching consequences, not only for himself and his whole family, but for the lord of the manor, his sovereign, and the ruthless struggle for supremacy between Westminster and Rome.

Some opinions of The Tide Mill

The Tide Mill is an immaculately crafted work of period fiction where love, pain, gritty daily detail, natural beauty, and human ingenuity meld seamlessly into something almost epic. The depth and richness of Herley’s language is always a treat: through his writing, he constantly reminds the reader that the perfect word for the situation is not always the common or expected word. As terse and economical as his prose is, he seems bent on selecting every word for maximum impact, and succeeds over and over again, achieving an exhilarating mix of fast-moving action and rich detail. Herley is one of the few authors who can send me scrambling for the dictionary without seeming as if he’s showing off.

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