The Reef, by Di Morrissey

Since witnessing her brother drowning as a child, Jennifer has been terrified of the ocean. So when her husband tells her they are going to live on an island, she is terrified. As well as her fear, though, she has other issues: being removed from her family and fiends, and having to continue her important studies from a distance.

Branch Island is home to a trendy resort, which Jennifer’s husband Blair will help to manage. It also houses a scientific research station. The two organisations do not always operate in harmony, and as Jennifer finds herself drawn to the station and its staff, she learns a lot about herself and about her marriage. As her self-confidence grows and she learns to conquer her fears, she also has to cope with watching her marriage crumble.

The Reef is a novel of self-discovery, but it also includes plenty of action, as the island shelters some secrets which are shattering to all involved. After a slow start, which lingers through Jennifer’s early life, university studies and developing relationship with Blair, the novel picks up in pace and explores the personal issues of both career versus relationship and mother/daughter relationships, as well as the wider issues of environmental responsibility and the impact of development.

There is some much explored here that at times the reader can feel a little overwhelmed and some of the plot points touched on are left unresolved, but overall this is a solid read.

The Reef, by Di Morrissey
Pan, 2005 (First published in Hardcover by Macmillan, 2004)