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The Tale of Truthwater Lake: 'Absolutely gorgeous.' Hilary McKay

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That this was an era with a foot in the past - horses still worked the land, cars were a luxury few could afford, refrigerators, antibiotics, television sets, weren't yet in widespread use, and rationing of some goods was still in place. And yet the world was very definitely looking to the future. After the war the population was booming. People needed new housing, and new gadgets to put in them. Cinema and music became even more popular, especially amongst younger generations.

It had a lot of potential, but... sigh. I loved Letters from the Lighthouse (or is it "to the Lighthouse"?), but as beautiful as my copy of this one is, I'm leaving it behind in England. It's not one I'll keep in my home library. This will not, however, keep me from reading more books by Carroll. I've also been long fascinated by how whole villages were cleared to build reservoirs, and how, in dry summers, the ruins of these drowned villages can, rather spookily, emerge. Truthwater Lake is the result of trying to weave these inspirations together. On one side of the underwater street is the remains of a house . . . It's beautiful here, and eerie, a lost kingdom, a ghost village . . .Nellie’s life changes—but not in the way we expect—when a swimming celebrity arrives at the Syndercombe Lido to select a young swimmer for a media-sponsored Channel swim. Nellie and her best friend Lena must plot and plan to help the chosen swimmer achieve the Channel swim and make all their different dreams come true. The weight of the storytelling is with Nellie, as she also negotiates different kinds of separation and loss, trying to keep Lena with her as Syndercombe collapses into water. When Nellie’s story arrives in 2032, Polly’s story reasserts itself. We understand the lessons she has learned from being Nellie and about different kinds of courage. This book starts very differently- 10 years in the future. This is a future where climate change has led to scorching summers and shortages. It is a very timely book after the heatwave we have had this summer, which makes the scenario so much more believable. It's a really intriguing moment in history where things could've gone so badly wrong. It's also a very good example of diplomacy in action: Robert Kennedy and his Russian counterpart talked their way out of the conflict. Because of American airbases on British soil, we would've been drawn into any war with Russia, so the situation was perilous for us, too. The main surprise for me was how close we came to actual war. Some of the sources now made public would've been top secret at the time, and certainly make for chilling reading!"

From 1st July 2021, VAT will be applicable to those EU countries where VAT is applied to books - this additional charge will be collected by Fed Ex (or the Royal Mail) at the time of delivery. Shipments to the USA & Canada: The story is a time-slip adventure set in the near future and in 1952. I was inspired, firstly, by a book called 'A Boy in the Water' by Tom Gregory, which is his account of swimming the English channel as an 11 year old boy. It's a true story and an incredible read. On one side of the underwater street is the remains of a house . . . It’s beautiful here, and eerie, a lost kingdom, a ghost village . . .

Can you tell us about your latest book, The Tale of Truthwater Lake, and what inspired the story? How much of it is inspired by real events or people?

In The Tale of Truthwater Lake, Britain is struggling with an on going heatwave which is considered to be a danger to life and so a curfew is in place. Polly and her brother Joel are sent to stay with their Aunt, who lives near the lake. One night Polly takes a dip in the lake and discovers the lost village. What follows is a mesmerising tale into the past with connections to the future. A thought provoking tale with an environmental message deeply rooted in its heart. On one side of the underwater street is the remains of a house . . . It's beautiful here, and eerie, a lost kingdom, a ghost village . . .It's the near-future and Britain is having yet another heatwave. Of course, the government have put in the normal curfews for this kind of weather, and shops are forced to shut again. For Polly, it's the sort of heat that makes her do wild, out-of-character things just to cool down.Like face her fear of deepwater. Essential when she and her brother have been sent to their aunt's eco lake-side house for the summer.But Truthwater Lake is beginning to dry up. As the water level diminishes, a lost village emerges. Swimming over the rooftops at midnight, Polly dives down and is suddenly able to breathe, to hear church bells and bird song . . . Polly has discovered an underwater gateway . . . to the past!

The ending is very neat and tidy and one moment I was hoping it wouldn't be, then had a tear in my eye because it was wonderful.

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