When her mother is silenced, first by a stroke, and then by death, Marian finds herself confronting the chaotic detritus of a life obsessively devoted to art. She has left it too late to ask the crucial questions about scenes confusedly remembered from her childhood, and above all about the identity of her own father, 'lost in the war'. Out of hundreds of paintings in her mother's studio, one portrait of a young man is inscribed 'For Marian'. Is this her father? And who was he?
Marian's search takes her to the Cornish town of St. Ives. In the remote and close-knit community where fisherfolk and artists have coexisted for many years, she learns of a tragedy which is intrinsically tied up with her father's life. Over fifty years before, the St. Ives lifeboat went down with all hands bar one. Marian must delve deep into the past to discover the identity of a man she never knew, and in so doing confront the demons which have tortured her own adult existence.
The Serpentine Cave is an imagined story containing a true one - a powerful novel about memory and loss, birth and rebirth, and past regrets which still have the power to plague the present.
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