Love, Swans, and The Microbe
Andrea Fisher Rowland's HIGH TIDE is a novel to be read, savored, and then read again, out loud. HIGH TIDE is all about love and the many ways we feel it and show it, especially in the face of danger and uncertainty. A poet, playwright, and novelist, the author combines words into poetic glimpses that linger in the imagination.
"A superb integration of humanity and nature, Rowland's book is articulate, poetic, and titillates the senses. After reading, I'm still feeling the pull of High Tide." --Erica Arvold, Founder & CEO, Arvold
At the Outer Banks, environmental scientist Marika Hansen stands in the ocean and contemplates, with grim satisfaction, the end of the world. As she muses, migrating swans arrive from the Arctic, only to find that their familiar salt marsh has become a hog wallow--where a confluence of muck, microbes, and chance create a powerful new life form that will invade the beach town of Jasper, North Carolina.
When the pathogen claims its first human life, it strains the spirits of the survivors. It scares the townspeople into acknowledging their many interrelationships and brings them face to face with fear. Local doctor Terry Baker acts quickly to save lives, but will her efforts be enough? Can Marika's research save the day?
HIGH TIDE is the unexpected story of a small community in the Outer Banks of North Carolina whose members gradually absorb the impact and begin to uncover the cause of a mysterious ailment affecting its residents. The reader gets to know the key players gradually, as, one by one, they interact with one another and with the effects of the deadly pathogen in their midst.
Marika Hansen, a former marine biologist/epidemiologist originally from Denmark, has abandoned a career as a lab scientist and spends most of her time drinking, watching waves, and drawing mysterious maps of the migration of waterfowl and the spread of human diseases. We meet Father Don Cathcart, the disenchanted priest; Lynn Baker, once an aspiring writer, now living in her father Pete's house and struggling to raise her young son; Lynn's Aunt Jeanne, a masseuse and mystic; Lynn's sister, Terry, the local doctor; Kenny Peterson, Lynn's ex-husband, a car salesman who enjoys fishing and sleeping around; retired English professor Alan Hirsch, a New York City transplant; a bartender, a waitress, an innkeeper and his wife, the mayor, a stray cat, a visiting research scientist, and more. We learn about coastal ecology, migratory birds, pig farming, microbes, and weather patterns. Most of all, we remind ourselves of the power of love.
The author builds a world of images, sounds, smells, sentiments, waves of emotion, gestures both tiny and grand, puzzling science, missed signals, and deep connections, while maintaining the exquisite tension caused by the unseen force of nature that imperils the entire community. The reader simultaneously wants to keep turning the pages, and to pause to enjoy the moment.
About the Author
Teacher, author, playwright, and poet Andrea Fisher Rowland (1957-2019) made her home in Charlottesville, Virginia. Andrea spent her childhood years in New Zealand, and thereafter was a Virginia resident for most of her life. She graduated in English from James Madison University, where hers was the first student-written play-entitled Fancies -ever presented on the main stage of campus and for which she won the Norman Lear Award for Comedy Playwriting. She earned an MA from the University of Virginia with a concentration in Creative Writing, studying with John Casey and Greg Orr. She went on to earn a PhD from the University as well, working with Karen Chase and Edgar Shannon. Her dissertation, The Supernatural Muse: Representations of the Creative Impulse in the Fiction of Emily Bronte, Charlotte Bronte, and Charles Dickens, examines the supernatural figures (ghosts, genii, etc.) appearing in those authors' works. She worked as an Assistant Dean and Director of Studies at the University of Virginia, taught composition and literature at Wake Forest University, and taught introduction to theater at James Madison University. She has directed readings and productions of Shakespeare and other early modern playwrights at Wake Forest and at the University of Virginia. Most recently she taught English at Renaissance School in Charlottesville. Throughout the years, while raising her son Liam, she wrote poetry, plays, and fiction, notably her novel High Tide. In 2017, an excerpt from High Tide was a finalist in the Virginia Festival of the Book Fiction Contest, and her poem, These Same Fields, won the Writer House / Jefferson Madison Regional Library Poetry Competition. Her poem, Waikato, was published in Artemis Journal in 2018. The poetry collection, Family Album, and the novel, High Tide, are both published by Chenille Books.