Project Description

Secrets of the Sea, 2008 (Shortlisted for Commonwealth Writer’s Prize; longlisted for Miles Franklin Award)

Following the death of his parents in a car crash, eleven-year-old Alex Dove is torn from his life on a remote farm in Tasmania and sent to school in England. When he returns to Australia twelve years later, the timeless beauty of the land and his encounter with a young woman whose own life has been marked by tragedy, persuade him to stay. They marry, and he finds himself drawn into the eccentric, often hilarious dynamics of island life. Longing for children, the couple open their home to a disquieting guest, a teenage castaway, whose presence in their home begins to unravel their tenuously forged happiness.

If he has not previously earned the right to be considered a world writer, this novel should confirm it… A resonant fiction, affirmative and very human
John Linklater, Sunday Herald
A remarkable novel. It is brilliantly successful in portraying the forlorn, claustrophobic, gossipy, defiant little society in which it is set…This latest work shows Shakespeare to be one of our dozen or so best
Francis King, Literary Review
I read it with complete absorption, wholly immersed in its world. It has a palpability and veracity which is quite mesmerising. A tremendous piece of work.
William Boyd
Masterful…Secrets of the Sea is the delicate account of [two lovers’] coming together and drifting apart… Shakespeare has produced a work of rare beauty
Financial Times
Gripping…subtle but arresting
The Times
Engagement with the sea… its significance in the unplumbed depths of human psyche, is the real, undoubted strength of this novel
The Independent
Carefully measured storytelling in this enveloping tale of life’s small treasures lost and found
Sunday Times
An impressive, poignant piece of work
Sunday Telegraph
An astute portrayal of thoughtful characters…Elegant and enjoyable
It reads absolutely true… A very good novel indeed