Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton #BookReview #BlogTour

 A young woman walks alone through a barren landscape in a time before history, a time of cataclysmic natural change. She is cold, hungry and with child but not without hope or resources. A skilful hunter, she draws on her intuitive understanding of how to stay alive… and knows that she must survive.
In present-day London, geneticist Dr Eloise Kluft wrestles with an ancient conundrum as she unravels the secrets of a momentous archaeological find. She is working at the forefront of contemporary science but is caught in the lonely time-lock of her own emotional past.
Bone Lines is the story of two women, separated by millennia yet bound by the web of life.  A tale of love and survival – of courage and the quest for wisdom – it explores the nature of our species and asks what lies at the heart of being human.
Although partly set during a crucial era of human history 74,000 years ago, Bones Lines is very much a book for our times. Dealing with themes from genetics, climate change and migration to the yearning for meaning and the clash between faith and reason, it also paints an intimate portrait of who we are as a species. The book tackles some of the big questions but requires no special knowledge of any of the subjects to enjoy.
Alternating between ancient and modern timelines, the story unfolds through the experiences of two unique characters:  One is a shaman, the sole surviving adult of her tribe who is braving a hazardous journey of migration, the other a dedicated scientist living a comfortable if troubled existence in London, who is on her own mission of discovery. 
The two are connected not only by a set of archaic remains but by a sense of destiny – and their desire to shape it. Both are pioneers, women of passion, grit and determination, although their day to day lives could not be more different. One lives moment by moment, drawing on every scrap of courage and ingenuity to keep herself and her infant daughter alive, while the other is absorbed by work, imagination and regret. Each is isolated and facing her own mortal dangers and heart-rending decisions, but each is inspired by the power of the life force and driven by love. 
Bone Lines stands alone as a novel but also marks the beginning of the intended ‘Children of Sarah’ series.

It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton today. Many thanks to the author, publishers, Unbound and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my copy of the novel.

Bone Lines is a dual narrative story that follows two women separated by thousands of years yet still connected through common themes which unite all of humanity. Eloise is a geneticist who is desperately eager to uncover the secrets of a 74,000-year-old female skeleton discovered by happy accident on Mount Kenya. The skeleton is given a media-friendly name, Sarah after Barack Obama's Kenyan grandmother and readers are taken back to ancient times when this extraordinary woman was forced into a nomadic existence following the Sumatran super-volcano eruption which left her alone and pregnant. Her story is one of desperate survival as she travels with her infant daughter, barely finding sustenance to support them both in the desolate, devastated lands she must pass through as she searches for a new place to call home. She risks almost constant danger as she must face the triple threat of the cold, hunger and other predators but her humanity is never in any doubt and far from being a primitive hunter, she is shown to be empathetic, loving and fiercely protective of her baby daughter. She may have lived thousands of years ago but it struck me that Sarah is not very different from the women who are still forced to migrate from their homes and withstand terrible hardships in order to protect their children today. 
Eloise's struggles are more instantly recognisable to modern readers as she considers the moral, philosophical and religious complexities of her research even when driven by the desire for knowledge in her professional life. She ably contends with office politics, professional rivalries and religious fanaticism but acknowledges her personal affairs are rather less successful. She's perhaps not the easiest woman to understand initially and it took me a little while to feel as much affinity with her as I did with Sarah but as the story progresses I grew to really like her introspective nature and wry sense of humour. Both women are determined and courageous individuals but they are united by loss and regret as much as by what motivates them to keep going. They have lost their families and left behind lovers and though their circumstances are very different, there is a sense of loneliness which haunts them both. Bone Lines is unashamedly scientific with a focus on evolution, genetics and climate change and is written to be entirely plausible yet still accessible for the layperson. This is an intelligent, educational and thought-provoking novel which led me to consider just how medical genetics may shape the future of mankind. 
However, for all the theorising, Bones Lines is a beautifully written, even occasionally wryly humorous book which at its heart is about love and how it continues to drive and inspire us. That our genetic material has adapted over time and yet still connects us to humans who walked upon the Earth thousands of years ago is both fascinating and humbling. At a time when our political landscape arguably sees us more divided than ever, I found this to be a rather soothing, thoughtful and necessary reminder that we all far more similar than we are different. 

Bone Lines is published by Unbound and can be purchased here.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Who do you think you are? A daunting question for the debut author… but also one to inspire a genre-fluid novel based on the writer’s fascination for what makes humanity tick. Born in Hong Kong to expats from Liverpool (and something of a nomad ever since) Stephanie is now based in London, but manages her sanity by escaping to any kind of coast
Before returning to her first love of creative writing, Stephanie spent much of her youth pursuing alternative forms of storytelling, from stage to screen and media to marketing. For the past fifteen years Stephanie has run her own communications and copywriting company specialised in design, architecture and building. In the meantime an enduring love affair with words and the world of fiction has led her down many a wormhole on the written page, even if the day job confined such adventures to the weekends.
Drawn to what connects rather than separates, Stephanie is intrigued by the spaces between absolutes and opposites, between science and spirituality, nature and culture. This lifelong curiosity has been channelled most recently into her debut novel, Bone Lines. When not bothering Siri with note-taking for her next books and short stories, Stephanie can be found pottering about with poetry, or working out what worries/amuses her most in an opinion piece or an unwise social media post. Although, if she had more sense or opportunity she would be beachcombing, sailing, meditating or making a well-disguised cameo in the screen version of one of her stories. (Wishful thinking sometimes has its rewards?)


  1. Thanks so much for supporting the blog tour Karen x


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