Binding, Paul. “The Stranger from the Sea”, Overlook Press, 2019.
Romances, Rivalries and Heartaches
Young Norwegian sailor Hans Lyngstrand is shipwrecked in the English Channel near the coastal Kent town of Dengate because of a spring storm. He is one of few survivors. Soon afterwards, aspiring journalist Martin Bridges takes a job as the reporter at the local newspaper. Martin, by nature, is a loner and is a curiosity to the nosy townspeople, his editor at the paper, and his melodramatic landlady, whose own private life is filled by the unexplained absence of her son and suspicious disappearance of her husband. When Hans moves into the “Mercy Room” of Martin’s boardinghouse to convalesce and Martin’s editor assigns him the job of interviewing the young sailor, an otherwise uneventful world is turned upside-down. Hans tells him of his travels at sea, how he survived the shipwreck and of his encounter with a ferocious sailor vowing to seek revenge and who Hans believes may still be alive. Here is the start of complex friendship between the two young men. Martin will have to reexamine his past and future ambitions and his relationships with everyone around him. The back stories of the novel unfold with secret romances, rivalries, and heartaches of what seems to be an unremarkable town. The result is a mesmerizing read.