The sea plays a vital role throughout The Remote Part. It is never far from the action and its moods often set the tone for the chapter. But for Isla the sea is part of who she is. It is a realisation that comes to her as the novel progresses, but even in the opening chapter she cannot escape it’s grasp.
Exhausted and sick she curls up in bed only to be pulled out into the night by Stewart, and pushed into the sea. More than anyone he knows the power it has to heal her.
Before them the sea roared, the waves breaking close to shore, so close she could taste the spray. The pull of the waves on the land was almost unbearable now, pulling her in. As if he knew she could no longer stand it, she felt his lips on her forehead, cool against her hot skin. His voice cut over the pounding rhythm of the water.
“Come back to me,” he said.
His hand was on her back gently pushing her towards the sea.
She stepped forwards, the sand giving way unevenly beneath her until she was running, falling to where land met sea, where everything was blurred. The water wrapped around her and she let her body be carried by it until she was through the churn of the shoreline and out into the heave of the open water. The currents whipped round her like the wind. They tugged at her, tugged at what was inside her. She fought them, instinctively, until the calm came. It came slowly, a warmth which sparked in her chest and flowed out to the tips of her fingers and toes to the top of her head. She let herself sink, deeper and deeper, losing the sense of where she stopped and the water started.
Frightened Rabbit are another band that is going to pop up a lot here. This is classic Scottish Indie rock. And they just keep getting better. There’s a darkness through their work, particularly Scott Hutchison’s lyrics that just gets to me. It’s a brutal honesty, almost a slap in the face sometimes that draws me in again and again. These songs sum up so much of the Scottish experience, the reality of a life that is harsh but not without joy.
This song worked its way into the novel as a whole. The idea of Isla being linked to the sea, bound to it. The way the water can cleanse and heal but also how it can empty a soul.
And the land is a marker line
All I am is a body adrift in water, salt and sky
So here’s the song: