Fresh Talent: In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

Fresh Talent: In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

In Her Wake – Amanda Jennings

What would you do if everything you know turns out to be a lie?

When Mark and Alice Tremayne’s three-year-old daughter vanishes from a campsite in France, their lives are destroyed. The little girl is never found, and her devastated family is forced to live in the shadow of her disappearance.

Twenty-five years later, Bella Campbell returns to her childhood home in Oxfordshire for the funeral of her mother. Her father has been broken by his wife’s death and tries to tell Bella something important, but can’t. When a second tragedy strikes, Bella is given some news that shatters her world.

Desperate to uncover the truth, she walks out on her controlling husband, and journeys to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, an area rich in myth and legend, where hidden truths and past betrayals threaten not only her identity but also her life. Armed only with a scrap of paper and a clutch of confusing half memories and haunting dreams, she is faced with a series of revelations that force her to confront the fact that sometimes the most shocking crimes happen closest to home.

Amanda Jennings Biography

Amanda Jennings lives in Oxfordshire with her husband, their three daughters and a menagerie of animals.

She studied at Cambridge and was a researcher at the BBC before leaving to concentrate on her family and writing.

She is interested in the far-reaching effects of past crimes on all those involved, a theme that forms the basis of her third novel, In Her Wake.

When she’s not writing, she can usually be found up a mountain or beside the sea.


Amanda Jennings on the Inspiration In Her Wake

My mother’s family, back through many generations, are proudly Cornish and ever since I can remember it’s been a part of who I am. When my sister and I were younger we would spend summers in and around Penzance and St Ives. We’d be bundled into the overpacked car, tummies fizzing with anticipation, and would pass the long, hot journey counting yellow cars, squealing with excitement at a glimpse of a Dartmoor pony, and craning our necks to be the first to see the sea. Once down there our days would be spent making camps in the woods below my grandmother’s house, getting hot and sunburnt while running in and out of the bitingly cold sea, and searching rock pools for crabs and tiny darting fish while our parents lazed on the beach.

It’s recollections of these carefree moments that I battle with now when it comes to bringing up my own children. There is a constant conflict between giving them freedom and independence to grow and protecting them from the monsters that plague our nightmares. One of the greatest fears any parent can contemplate is the thought of losing a child. When my first daughter was about five years old, I remember watching the news and seeing a computer-generated picture of a toddler who went missing many years before. The image showed what he would look like as a twelve-year-old. My heart went out to his mother. I could only imagine the desperation and pain she still felt all those years later. As a mother myself I experienced an almost visceral pain and all I wanted was for him to be alive. For him to be safe and happy. Years later, the idea of a child being taken and raised by another set of parents was still there in my mind. I wanted to understand the motivations of those who would commit such a crime. I wanted to understand how they would justify their actions. I also wanted to explore the other side, too: the bereft family struggling with their loss and grief in the aftermath of an unsolved mystery that would shape and define them. And then, between these two sets of parents, the stolen child. A grown woman whose whole identity is a lie. A woman who, when the hidden truth is revealed, is forced to fight to discover who she really was.

Identity is a fascinating subject. What is it that makes an individual who they are? One’s identity is horribly fragile. It doesn’t take much for us to begin to question who we really are. As the idea for this novel developed, I knew instinctively that the story would be set in Cornwall, not only the place where I had experienced such freedom in my own childhood, but somewhere imbued with a powerful identity of its own. And so Cornwall, with its wild and rugged coast, rich in myth and legend, becomes – I hope – a complementary backdrop to a tragic, exploratory yet ultimately hopeful story with a parent’s love, and fear, at its core.