It’s July 1939. War is looming in Europe, but this pre-World War II era novel takes the reader to a fishing community off coastal Maine, Monk Island, – not the first place one thinks of impacted by the war. It is there we meet teenager Ellie Ames and her family as well as German refugees Mr. and Mrs. Brink and their nineteen-year-old son Karl. The Storm Beyond the Tides, by Jonathan Cullen, brings a unique perspective to a WWII story following the two teenagers.
Karl and Ellie begin a summer romance despite the sideways glances and warnings from most of the coastal town as word gets out that the lobsterman’s daughter is being seen with a German. The two begin an innocent relationship supporting each other through each other’s familial secrets that begin to spill out as they build each other’s trust. Then quickly, the Brink family is gone from Monk Island on their way back to Germany. Ellie is left longing for Karl and the life they dreamed of.
As World War II amps up, Ellie adjusts to life on Monk Island without Karl. She begins to plan for a different future with her sister, mother and father. Trying to figure out how to live a meaningful life in the tiny town. Karl adjusts to life in a worn torn country. The reader is left wondering will their paths cross again, when a letter to Ellie makes it way back to Monk Island.
While this book has an interesting perspective, I was left wanting a bit more out of the story. The resolution comes a bit fast at the end. Most of the plot is driven by geography and chronology moving our characters around based on the war and the goings on of that specific country. My personal preference would have been a little less geography and more character development. However, fans of WWII romances should still be satisfied.
GBC Reader Reviews