Re. Chapter 2.
Well, starting at the end, the ending was great. The motif of the dead sheep works, for me, and you’re building up the sense of foreboding from chapter 1 again. It’s a hook.
Having said that, to get that far isn’t plain sailing. The change of tense has been commented on already, and that’s part of it, but there’s something not quite there in the transition between ‘now’ and the past-tense conversation with Catriona. The atmosphere and the tone is different in this part. I’m not quite sure where the issue is, but some kind of disconnect.
The description of the landscape at the start is just great. Really evocative. My pace-instinct screams at me ‘cut to the action!’ but I think that’s the writer speaking, not the reader. The reader seems happy enough, and anyway, all us townies have got to get used to the pace of life here, which seems to be the message. Only now I wonder if Eilidh could reach Catriona’s pottery as part of her daily walk, then meet the sheep on the way home?
I have a couple of issues with the glamping pods. Of course, this is a highly plausible development, but the nature of the work is hinted at for quite a few pages, and then at the reveal I’m like … glamping pods? Is that all? I thought they were planning an HQ for Scientology or something really way-out. Of course, at the end I realize the reason for all this tension building is that she knows what the diggers will find (brilliant), but the buildup stumbles. The other issue – being a man, and assuming I must know everything construction-related – is that the idea that glamping pods need proper foundations doesn’t sound right. To me, anyway.
I also have a small beef with thinking of Catriona and her stomach listing. The meaning of ‘lists’ is clear enough – a ship leans sideways in a heavy swell – and I like the image of that fairground vertigo you feel when you’re on the ship and just for a moment gravity isn’t quite where you thought it was. The problem I have is: why is this linked to Catriona? She isn’t the cause of the glamping pods, and so far as I can tell, she isn’t particularly in favour either. The link isn’t quite there.
Overall, this is lovely writing. I’ve held off saying it – trying just to be the reader, not the writer or the critic – but I wonder if the scene with Catriona doesn’t come across as well because it’s lacking the lyricism of the rest, and maybe it needs a slight change of tone? Perhaps even let your inner thriller-writer out and go full-on? ;-)
I hope this helps. I’ve really enjoyed reading so far, and I’d be happy to read more, or another draft of this part. Please let me know.