In a small Yorkshire coastal fishing village, 16-year-old Amy Trott makes a meagre living scouring the shoreline for flithers (limpets) to use as bait on her father’s fishing lines. It is an inhospitable world of deep crevices and rock pools, where the fast-flowing tide can so easily trap the unwary in minutes, cutting them off from safety.
Wild and unkempt, she is marginalized by the local community, which treats her as slow-witted, a virtual outcast. In those days, flither girls were seen as the lowest of the low; the hard work they did, toiling in freezing conditions, scaling cliff faces, wading out to sea and braving the treacherous currents, went largely unappreciated and undervalued. Amy braves the ferocious conditions without question or complaint; it is all she has ever known.
One stormy day, her life is torn apart when her beloved father is lost at sea. In her denial of events, she searches the sea and shore, convinced that he will return, but instead of her father she finds another refugee washed ashore. Facing a life-threatening decision, she can either leave him there to perish and save her own life, or she can try to save both herself and this mysterious man. But in doing so, she risks being cut off and suffering a cruel death in the freezing water of the North Sea. The trouble is, it is 1915 and the refugee is German …
Thus begins a story that combines family conflict, adventure, war and romance, in which we witness Amy’s rite of passage as we share her secret while she focuses all her attentions on this illicit friend. The conflict that came ashore turns a girl into a woman.
Targeted Age Group:: 17+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I got the title even before the story. I saw this girl on a Victorian magic lantern slide—well, she was a young woman, really—and I wanted to write about her. More than anything, I think it was the look in her eyes that got me.
Who are your favorite authors?
I like Clive Cussler for his adventure novels, Tracy Chevalier for how she beautifully combines historical fact with her own characters, and Joanne Harris for her insight into people. I enjoyed Andrew Davidson’s The Gargoyle, and Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44.