Cath Crowley, who spent at least some of her childhood growing up here in Gippsland, has been the recipient of multiple awards over the years for her writing. Words in Deep Blue is a testament to her skill at the craft.
Generally I avoid romance as a genre but in this case, the title drew me in. I wondered what the author meant by the words in blue.
As it turns out one of the main characters, Rachel, lost her brother Cal when he drowned in the ocean ten months before the story commences. Deep blue describes the ocean and how Rachel feels about her loss and inability to move on from the deep darkness that has come over her. In a clever way, it also refers to the words or conversations between Rachel and Henry.
Rachel and Henry were best friends, until Henry got with the wrong girl and Rachel happened to move away. At the beginning of the story, Rachel is returning to her hometown after three years, but finds that her grief prevents her from being able to connect with her friends. Through the voices of Henry and Rachel, Cath Crowley shows that true friendship, while complicated, never really ceases.
Meanwhile, the secondhand bookstore in the story is the perfect backdrop for the deep blue conversations. For generations now we have been pushed towards academics, science and facts, but through this story, Cath Crowley shows us the value of the arts.
There is a really beautiful line where Henry and Rachel have been discussing life, death and the universe and Henry says: “Sometimes science isn’t enough… sometimes you need the poets.” This story draws our attention to that need.
Authors, books, bookstores, stories and poets don’t always provide us with all the answers, but they connect us and provide a space to discuss the things that matter. They provide us with thoughts, words and phrases to describe and discuss the rich complexity of life. When we feel our glass may be half empty, poets and writers can show us that it is also half full. They can understand us when it feels no one else can.
These are the stories that we share to help us find clarity and understanding.
Henry reminds us of the power of words and stories when he is trying to convince Rachel of his love for her.
“But I love you,” Henry says “…and before you say it, words do matter. They’re not pointless. If they were pointless then they couldn’t start revolutions… and they wouldn’t be the things that you think about every night before you go to sleep. If they were just words we wouldn’t listen to songs, we wouldn’t beg to be read to when we’re kids. If they were just words, then they’d have no meaning and stories wouldn’t have been around since before humans could write. …If they were just words then people wouldn’t fall in love because of them, feel bad because of them, ache because of them, stop aching because of them…”
Words are a powerful art, they have been important for every generation.
At one point Henry closes his eyes and tries to imagine “a world without books… he feel[s] the flatness of it, the general grey of the landscape — the rubble and bleakness of it.” He opens his eyes again and wants to make a different choice — before he loses the things that really matter.
Words in Deep Blue implores that, “Somewhere up ahead there’s a future that’s waiting to be written” by every new generation. Seek out what really matters and make that your story, now.
Cath’s book ‘Words in Deep Blue: A Love Story’ is available to buy through Reader’s Emporium (Traralgon store open Thursday — Saturday). Exciting things are on the horizon for Reader’s Emporium, for more information head to www.readersemporium.com.au.