||It's on a close, airless night at the end of the summer season that the earthquake strikes, devastating the Turkish coast and generating a tsunami wave that crashes over the tiny Greek island of Halemni. It's a defining moment for t he two women at the heart of Rosie Thomas's The Potter's House. For Olivia, who has settled on the island with her Greek husband and two sons, it's a catalyst, forcing her to reassess her life away from England and take stock of what matters to her; for Kitty, it's a chance to turn her back on an unsuccessful marriage and start again, with a new identity, a rewritten past and a hopeful future.
When Kitty arrives on Halemni in the aftermath of the tidal wave, she's a woman who had "gradually become someone who listened, rather than a creature who went out and did things". But by throwing herself into helping the Greek villagers rebuild their homes, she gains independence and confidence, and slips seamlessly into Olivia's world. As the novel evolves, the two strikingly similar women become more alike, their lives begin to merge, dissolving into each other as time loses its linearity. Olivia's precious tranquillity is endangered; the villagers' lives are threatened by an uneasy claustrophobia that may well have more catastrophic results than the tsunami the autumn before.
Rosie Thomas has written several bestselling novels, including White, about an expedition to conquer Everest and Border Crossing, which recounts her participation in the 1997 Peking to Paris motor rally. Like these, The Potter's House is a compelling, disturbing exploration of inner strength, personal challenges and dramatic journeys. --Jane Honey