We first meet Sarah Evans in Thicker Than Water, when she’s kidnapped along with Ruth Dyer, Roisin Murray and Sally Angus.
At first she’s just a name on a list, but then she becomes the subject of a major confrontation between her father, Ted, and the new village steward, Jess.
She emerges as a more important character later on in the book when she meets Martin, one of the men who’s taken her. We see her through his eyes and learn that she’s got hidden reserves of courage and intelligence.
In Sea of Lies, she plays a major role. She becomes a Point of View character and we get to see Martin, the village, and the dysfunctional Evans family through her eyes.
But who is Sarah? And what motivates her?
Sarah was just about to turn thirteen when the floods hit. She lived with her mother Dawn and her father Ted in a cottage in Somerset. By the time Sea of Lies takes place, she can’t remember much about it. She just recalls:
She had vague memories of a cottage by a stream, of being nestled against a hillside, hidden away from the world.
And later in the book, she remembers how she was wary of the sea:
She thought of the times she’d sat on the beach in Somerset as a child, watching the other families with their inflatable dinghies and lilos. She’d always been alone, sitting at the spot where the sand began, an observer of these incomers on her territory. In winter they’d be gone and she’d have the beach to herself.
But she’d never gone out on the water.
She’s not the only person in the books who grew up by the sea and so had a healthy wariness of it. In Thicker Than Water, Ruth recalls her own childhood near the sea:
Despite growing up near the coast, she’d avoided the beach and had never been a confident swimmer. Ben’s family had grown up in cities, never understanding how the sea could dominate a landscape, how you could smell its mood changing. How the weather it ushered in could hit you with raw force.
The Londoners, by contrast, are gung-ho about the sea, going out on it in a tiny craft when there’s a storm raging in Thicker Than Water – with disastrous consequences.
Sarah’s Journey North
Sarah walked north with her parents after the floods. She was just a teenager, terrified by the unfamiliarity, the bleakness of the landscape and the roughness of the people they came into contact with.
Something terrible happened to her on that journey, something that prompted her father to retaliate. I’m not going to reveal what it was: all becomes clear in Sea of Lies. But it still affects her relationship with her parents six years later, and also colours the way her mother looks at her father.
Sarah’s Role in the Village
Sarah is nineteen, an adult. She should be playing a part in village life, contributing to her self-sufficient community.
But she doesn’t. Instead she’s kept indoors by her parents: her mother who’s scared of the villagers and what they say about the Evans family behind their backs, and her father who doesn’t want the world to know how he treats the women he lives with.
Sarah’s only friend is her cat, Snowy, her one solace.
Plenty of people needed a dose of escapism, here. Her own was found in the folds at the back of her cat’s neck, which she liked to nuzzle.
At the very beginning of Sea of Lies, she goes out at dawn, looking for her cat. She’s sneaked out of the house, scared that her parents might know she’s gone, and spots something she shouldn’t:
A figure backed out of the Dyers’ door. Tall and lean, struggling with something he pulled behind him. What was Ben Dyer doing dragging things around at this time of day?
Who is the figure? What will happen to Sarah after she sees him? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out…
Sarah’s Personal Journey
The events of Thicker Than Water and Sea of Lies change Sarah. She becomes tougher, more self-aware and less likely to do as her parents say.
Physically she has a frail, waif-like quality, with long, almost-white hair and a thin frame that Martin notices immediately.
Martin closed his eyes and pictured Sarah’s hair. Even when matted and clogged with mud, it had an ethereal quality, strands of it wafting around her face like she was something out of a painting.
At first we assume her personality must be pale too, that she must be lacking in solidity. But we soon learn that she’s tougher than she looks.
She defies her parents on multiple occasions in Sea of Lies to seek out people she shouldn’t, and to investigate the secrets surrounding the events of the book.
And in the middle of the book, she instigates something she never expected, something that changes her life forever…
I grew to like Sarah a lot when I was writing about her. She starts off scared but with a drop of resilience and fortitude. She has skills that her pale life of tiptoeing around her father have given her. And when she’s forced to choose the life she’ll lead in future, she risks being outcast by the only people she’s ever loved.
“Sea of Lies is a fantastic sequel to Thicker Than Water.”
“The characters develop further in this book and the descriptions really bring the village to life in all of its grim, fearful, grey, threatening glory.”
“Sequel to Thicker than Water; and what a sequel it is. Secrets lies and betrayal.”
I’m delighted that reviewers so far are loving the book and looking forward to seeing reader reactions to it when it’s published in less than a week.