Storm and Grace by Kathryn Heyman

Not everything is how it presents. Including this book.

On the surface, Storm and Grace could be mistaken for a contemporary Mills and Boon, complete with alpha male and remote island setting. But the reality is the exact opposite.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that it’s a clever and very deliberate inversion of everything Mills and Boon represents. Behind the chiselled abs, flushed cheeks and heavy breathing is a slow moving, bleak and insightful examination of the realities of controlling relationships.

Storm and Grace is the sixth novel from Australian author Kathryn Heyman, whose other books include The Accomplice and Floodline. She is also a busy playwright and mentor and will be speaking at the Sydney Writers Festival coming up next month.

This story centres around world champion free-diver, Storm Hisray. With his brooding eyes and mysterious connection to the sea, his PR manager describes him as the “Deepest man in the world”.  In Sydney for a promotional tour, he meets uni student Grace and sweeps her away from her world to his. Within weeks, she has abandoned her degree, moved to his Island and taken up free-diving alongside him.

The story progresses, taking the reader deeper and deeper (pun alert) into the relationship and under the sea.

I love the ambition of this book and the sinister analogies throughout it. The cringe-worthy Mills and Boon bits serve an important purpose but the best writing is found in the underwater passages where the characters plummet into disorienting darkness, suspending breath to the brink of narcosis.

Storm and Grace is a page-turning study of dangerous relationships and the setting, at 180 metres under the sea, perfectly conveys the intensity and urgency of the message.

Loved it.

And that is my 2 cents worth.