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The Crack Magazine

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Man at Sea by Liam Bell

In his third novel, Liam Bell ably traverses two time lines: Malta in 1941 and both the UK and Malta twenty years later. 1941 focuses on the childhood of Joe, whose father is a Maltese man who has joined the British Navy. 1961 features Beth, the nurse who was Joe's father's war-time bride, and her friend Stuart who was injured in Malta. Beth wants to find Joe, who she had once dreamed of becoming mother to, but Stuart wants to find the man responsible for his injuries. Bell’s sense of both historical period and place is really brought to life in the small details he incorporates throughout the novel, both from extensive research, as well as real life details from his Grandmother’s diaries of living in Malta. The novel’s plot is definitely a page-turner, but my real enjoyment came from feeling fully transported: feeling the terror and boredom of being stuck in shelters, exhaustion from being kept awake by the sound of the war, and the smells of the hospitals crowded with wounded soldiers and civilians alike. KM

Published by Fly on the Wall

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