Johnny, an outstanding young swimmer, went missing nearly thirty years ago: drowned, or so everyone except his sister Imogen believes. How could this have happened? Encouraged, pushed even, from a child by his father, Johnny could have made the Olympic team, couldn't he? As Imogen gradually pieces together bits of her family history, we hear the tragic echoes that connect her with the Great War and Ireland in the nineteen-twenties.
Jennifer Johnston is one of the foremost Irish writers of her, or any, generation.
She has won the Whitbread Prize (THE OLD JEST), the Evening Standard Best First Novel Award (for THE CAPTAINS AND THE KINGS), the Yorkshire Post Award, Best Book of the Year (twice, for THE CAPTAINS AND THE KINGS and HOW MANY MILES TO BABYLON?).
She was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize with SHADOWS ON OUR SKIN.
The quiet, elegiac prose is well sustained
Characters damaged by their upbringing are Jennifer Johnston's metier, and echoes are a favourite motif. In what is, despite its title, a very fine novel, the tragedies of her family's past recur as Imogen's words resound off the coastal bay. A taut narrative, pared prose and lyrical imagery add up to a sad affirmation of Philip Larkin's adage
Characteristically wry [and] intelligent
Eileen Battersby, Irish Times