Sea Change

Sea Change

Sunday Times Best Historical Fiction, June 2021

The Times Best New Historical Fiction, July 2021

BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime, read by Samantha Spiro, March 7 – 18, 2022

I’ll be back soon, my love.
Tonight, I hope.

The last Eve saw of her mother was a wave from the basket of a rising balloon one ill-fated afternoon in 1802. Growing up a wilful, clever orphan in the house
of her erratic artist guardian, Joseph,
she comes to suspect he knows more than he’s telling. Eve struggles to retain the image of her missing mother and the father she never knew while traversing a London beset by pageantry, incipient riots and the fear of Napoleonic invasion, with no one to guide her through its perils.
Far away, in a Norfolk fishing village, the Rev. Snead preaches hellfire and damnation to his impoverished parishioners and oppressed wife. Snead’s morality is ostensibly irreproachable; he even plays host to a beautiful, mute woman pulled from the sea and likes to illustrate his sermons with her good example. For, as her protector, he keeps a very close watch indeed

‘A compelling story about loss of identity, the impact of trauma, and the way back from it … that rare kind of historical fiction that both captures the period well and creates an absorbing narrative’
CHARLES PALLISER, author of Rustication

‘Her prose has the force and freshness of a blast of sea air … a vivid portrait of loss and love, teeming with detail at the same time as it moves the reader profoundly’
RACHEL HALLIBURTON, author of The Optickal Illusion.

‘Sea Change leads Nick Rennison’s choices. …[Alix Nathan’s] latest has the same off-beat originality [as her eye-catching previous novel] . . . Nathan fashions a strange, touching tale of hope and redemption.’ Sunday Times, 20 June 2021

The Times best new historical fiction.
‘Alix Nathan made an impact with her previous book, the bizarre and captivating The Warlow Experiment.  She returns with another original read. . . .  Unsettling and strange, Sea Change cements Nathan’s reputation as one of our most interesting historical novelists.’
ANTONIA SENIOR, 10 July 2021

‘An intriguing idea . . . the characters are vivid and original.’
EITHNE PARRY,  Daily Mail, 15 July 2021

‘So much to enjoy and admire in Sea Change. What struck me most from the literary point of view was the amazing skill of the movement to and fro between Eve and Sarah, a marvellous contrapuntal achievement, for every time we visited the one of them we learned something new, saw her in a new developing light (physically/mentally in Sarah’s case), and yet the basic reason for making these movements, the thematic connections behind the counterpoint (if that is musically exact!) were completely constant – leading with a moving logic to the harmony triumph of the ending. I can’t think of any other novel that is constructed in this way…. But of course the richness of the lives themselves (and beyond them of the society and times) are equally impressive. What a period – and the hero-making of Nelson at once deserved and undeserved has many resonances since, not least today….. I think Joseph a very finely done character – his moodiness, his egotism, his artistic compromises – and his artistic gifts too . Snead is terrifying; the stories from and about Hawthorne’s New England provide horrifying ‘cousins’ for him….  An imaginative, bold and well-wrought book.’

Nathan reveals a panorama of Georgian times.  From the Luddites to the funeral of Nelson, the emergence of cures for ‘lunacy’ to frost fairs on the Thames, from radical free-thinking pamphleteers to war with America, life during the turn of the nineteenth century spills across these pages.  Nathan’s touch is a light one, though, and these fascinating insights are mere asides.  What grips you and keeps you turning the pages are the stories of the three women, Sarah, Hester and Eve, at the heart of this fine historical novel.
ANNA SELBY, The Arbuturian, 12 October 2021

You might say that the characters in Alix Nathan’s latest novel are back by popular demand. . . . “So many people came up and asked, ‘So what did happen, then?  Did she die, did she live?’  I felt I’d better pursue it.”
Nathan specialises in the human struggle set against a sweeping historical backdrop.  In Sea Change, the Napoleonic Wars, Luddite uprisings and treacherous world of political radicals in the early 1800s vie with other, more personal battles: between science and superstition, between religious fanataticism and atheism, between rational thought and psychological disturbance.
GRAEME THOMSON, from an interview in The Radio Times, 01 March 2022