Title: Against the Tide
Author: John F Hanley
Genre: Coming of Age/Love Triangle/WWII
It's July 1939 and even though Poland is trapped between Adolph Hitler and Uncle Joe Stalin, everyone hopes war can be avoided. On the island of Jersey, 18 year old Jack Renouf is forbidden from associating with his own Uncle Fred because of his dangerous Communist views and salacious liaison with his Spanish mistress. Caught in his own velvet trap between outrageous Caroline and secretive Rachel, Jack doesn't pay too much attention to international affairs especially during this glorious summer when, despite the darkening horizon, everyone is in holiday mood. In his final days at school, Jack is focused on breaking the one minute barrier for the 100 yards freestyle so that he can get into the British swimming team for the 1940 Helsinki Olympics. Desperate for those last few seconds, he listens to Miko, an enigmatic Jewish refugee who works as a waiter in a local hotel but claims to have trained the Romanian water polo team for the Berlin Olympics. He persuades Jack to try some new techniques, which he promises will bring him success. But everyone else at the swimming club is suspicious of Miko. An arrogant Dutchman on holiday in the island bullies Jack during a water polo match and his carefully constructed sang froid boils away as he retaliates viciously and has to suffer the disciplinary consequences. Suddenly, Jack is in conflict with everyone and his well-ordered life spins away as he is sucked into a conspiracy involving the island's government, smuggled industrial diamonds, and two ruthless mercenaries seeking to retrieve them at any cost.
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My 5 Star Review
I received this book from the author for an honest review.
Against the Tide, a fitting name to this well written Historical Fiction. The coming of age novel will intrigue you, provide you with lots of action, and with a good dose of an interesting love-triangle.
Young Jack was tested to the limits as he discovered secrets and spies around every bend as the plot unravels with a good support system that keeps it exciting till the end.
The Shakespearean quotes thoughtfully embedded to give you a real feel of what he is experiencing, the intellectual conversations as he learned more about life and the ugly side of it. His disconnection with his father leads him to connect with his uncle, a colorful character that would keep you guessing.
I loved the South African character Saul, with his abrupt speech so evident of the Afrikaner men in my country. The lively conversations descriptive as the story unfolds that gives you a real feeling of what the people of Jersey experienced just before the Second World War.
In between life went on as strive and competitions in and out of the pool, keep you wondering where it all would lead. The easy story telling making this book an easy fast paced book but yet filled with adventure and drama for the most avid reader. A book I can recommend since it is well researched and the author's love for swimming comes into play throughout the pages of the book.
Caroline was too arrogant and manipulative for my taste, and Jack struggled with his feelings for her as she uses him for her own schemes, and Rachel, soft spoken, pretty but with a class that sets her apart from Caroline. Drawn to each without making a decision to whom his heart belong. The rest of the supporting characters enhanced the story both in the scenes and their personas fitting to the time.
Overall a great read and I really liked the cover since it says more than just what you see with the naked eye.