Magazine article The Spectator

A Race to the Altar

Magazine article The Spectator

A Race to the Altar

Article excerpt

WIVES OF THE FISHERMEN by Angela Huth

Little, Brown, 15.99, pp. 307 The fishermen in question set off in their boats for days or weeks at a time from a little village on the east coast of Fife some way north of the Bass Rock. This is Angela Huth's eighth novel, and as in her last, The Land Girls (a similarly self-explanatory title), what interests her is the relationship between the women in a specific and somewhat isolated community. In this new book she has moved from the land to the sea's edge. She writes with great confidence and poise, and the story of the wives, Annie Macleoud and Myrtle Duns, bowls along.

Annie and Myrtle have been friends since childhood, in and out of each other's houses throughout their schooldays and on into their adulthood and married lives. Where Annie is pretty and flirtatious, the toast of the school, Myrtle is large, plain and calm, the kind of girl whom boys confide in but never ask out. The novel sets out to explore the long relationship between the two. On the one hand there is deep trust and intimacy and on the other wariness, if not outright deceit, and squabbles; appearing to be entirely open with the other, each will always keep something back. Beautiful, attractive Annie runs through all the local lads and marries in a calculated way, spurred on by being beaten to the aisle by Myrtle, who marries satisfactorily and for love. But while Annie has a daughter, Myrtle fails to have children, and this further complicates relations between them; it is an awkwardness about which Annie is always tactless. …

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