And then there is the sea. It adds so much to the life of those that live near it, who view its changes every day, but it also has the power to steal life away. There are moving stories of lost children and parents who watch the tides. Cockle-pickers are a common sight on the beaches around Gower, and their back-breaking work features in ‘The Sands are Singing’, a heart-wrenching story with such an evocative title.
Fraser draws her characters with great skill and empathy, and each one’s longings and fears feel very real, but the reader who hopes for happy-ever-after endings will find few here. There is, instead, the satisfaction of reading between the lines of these characters’ lives, and just the right amount of space for the reader’s own interpretation and conclusions. And ever-present is the weather ‒ the south-westerly wind, the rain and sometimes sunshine ‒ and the magnificent scenery.
Salt Publishing have a reputation for discovering talented new writers like Man Booker shortlisted Alison Moore, and Jane Fraser is an exciting addition to the Salt fold. She writes with quiet assurance and perfect pace, with narratives unfolding in captivating scenes and tension gradually building. It keeps the reader turning the pages, whether familiar with the Gower landscape or not, and her writing is poignant, powerful and beautifully bewitching.
*The South Westerlies is published in paperback (175 pages) by SALT, price £9.99.
Reviewer Sara Gethin’s novel ‘Not Thomas’, published by Honno Press, was shortlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award and The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize. She writes for children as Wendy White and won the Tir nan-Og Award in 2014.
**You can read more about Jane Fraser and her writing by clicking here at Horla.