Book Review: The Storm Beyond the Tides by Jonathan Cullen

The Storm Beyond the Tides…

About the Book:

July 1939. War is on the horizon but on Monk Island, Maine life goes on as usual. As the daughter of a lobsterman, Ellie Ames’ future seems limited until a mysterious German couple comes off the ferry with their nineteen-year-old son. From the moment she meets Karl Brink, the two become inseparable and not everyone approves because locals are suspicious of outsiders. Ellie ignores their scorn, however, and the secret she learns about Karl’s family makes her even more determined to be with him.

The magical summer ends when the Brinks suddenly have to go home. And although Karl promises to return in the fall, by then Europe is at war. Two years pass and Ellie has all but given up hope when she gets a letter in the mail that will change her life forever.

The Storm Beyond The Tides is the story of the unlikely romance between a small-town girl and a German on the eve of the Second World War and explores a frightening time in America’s past—when U-Boats prowled the East Coast and put small, coastal communities on the frontline of a global conflict.

My Thoughts:

More and more when I read novels set during the era of WWII, I am seeking ones that explore life on the home front, rather than in the occupied territories. Mainly because I’ve read a lot of WWII fiction and as with any topic, I like a bit of variation. The Storm Beyond the Tides is set on an island off the coast of Maine, USA.

Surprisingly (to me), there are actually quite a few islands off the coast of Maine (about a dozen). I find that lifestyle quite interesting to read about, employment obviously dominated by fishing and lobster catches, as well as tourism. But I expect the lifestyle is fraught with economic concerns, being both small in community size and isolated on account of being islands. Jonathan Cullen recreates this atmosphere and taps into island life quite comprehensively throughout this novel and I enjoyed this rich sense of atmosphere immensely. It was like I was not only stepping back through time, but also visiting a place I knew very little about.

Prior to reading this, I had no idea that these Maine Islands were so involved in WWII. Not only were there military bases there, but German U-Boats within range. And this is what home front WWII fiction can bring to readers – a whole new perspective on the ‘world’ part of WWII. It was all quite fascinating but equally as grave and the sacrifice that communities within these small islands made cannot be overstated and nor should it be forgotten.

“Ellie Ames,” he said bitterly. “The only girl on Monk Island who would go with a Kraut, but not a local.”

Whilst romance provides the catalyst for many events throughout the novel, I wouldn’t pin this story down as a mere war time romantic tale. It has a lot more substance than that and explores many themes around discrimination and tolerance, socioeconomic imbalances, and family obligation. Karl’s story also offers a perspective on German resistance to the rise of Nazism.

‘A few weeks before she had cursed God and she now found herself thanking him. Someone had been taken from her, but someone was returned and in an instant, her faith in the world was restored.’

Anyone with a interest in historical fiction set in the WWII era will appreciate this novel and if you’re looking for a fresh perspective, a view on the era from a new location, then The Storm Beyond the Tides would be an ideal read for you. It has wide appeal and is a very engaging read.


Thanks is extended to the author for providing me with a copy of The Storm Beyond the Tides for review.

About the Author:

Jonathan Cullen was raised in Boston and attended public schools. After a brief career as a bicycle messenger, he attended Boston College and graduated with a B.A. in English Literature (1995). During his twenties, he wrote two unpublished novels, taught high-school in Ireland, lived in Mexico, worked as a prison librarian and spent a month in Kenya, Africa before finally settling down three blocks from where he grew up.
He currently lives in Boston (West Roxbury) with his wife Heidi and daughter Maeve.

The Storm Beyond the Tides
Released August 2019
Available from Amazon

12 thoughts on “Book Review: The Storm Beyond the Tides by Jonathan Cullen

  1. Sounds intriguing – if only I could add it to my TBR list… might be time to cull that list so I can add this one.
    Wonderful review, Theresa!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Occasionally I do a big TBR cull. I keep the majority but there are always titles that no longer interest me that I get rid of.
      This one was a very good book. I’m sure you would enjoy it if you ever decided to read it.


      • I always think if it’s on my bookshelf or on my list I put it there because it was a book I dearly want to read so it’s very hard to cull books. I find it easier to cross off books that are on my TBR list but to cull books from my bookshelves is another matter as I spent money on those books and that’s why I have that coffee table pile most of those books I’ve had longer than 10 years and I finally want them read and gone so I can get to the newer releases, ha, I still have many that I bought years ago might have to make another coffee table pile once the other pile is gone. Gosh, it’s never ending. Lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: #BookBingo2020 – Round 1: Set in a time of war | Theresa Smith Writes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s