As you move around the world and connect with people, in an under-the-first-layer trusted way, you soon begin to understand that everybody is carrying something.

The nature of that thing is just as heavy upon both the outwardly strong and the meek, the weight equal in opposite but the capacity to carry almost always features its reverse in scale of resilience. To underestimate the strength by relation to perceived valour would be the unkindest of mistakes with respect to the mild.

The story of Lucy in the new novel “The Octopus and I” by Erin Hortle, I motored through it in a matter of hours spread over four consecutive days. The pages not offered the chance to crease from their binding, such was the way I poured through it.

It tells the story of a colourful character living on the Tasman Peninsula in South-Eastern Tasmania, as she lives through the recovery of breast cancer. Lucy’s connection with the sea and its wild inhabitants is nothing short of golden, to dance and frolic as a seal, to lather as an octopus over rocks and tessellated pavement through the eyes of these masterful creatures is to behold a symbiotic connection with the feel and cognition of the nuances of the sea.

I laughed out loud, text tickling my abdomen. Tears welled and bled the black print letters onto smudgy pages. The joy I felt as it ignited my passion for a life of simplicity, respecting the way of nature and how it nurtures and fills us. Nothing to waste, a reminder of how we can better live drawing upon the skills of time past, such as preserving fresh food in jars for leaner times. Respecting the provider that Nature can be and sustaining it in a better balanced way for now and into the future.

The Octopus and I is a very human story and one straight from the sea. Myself having spent time in the book’s setting of Eaglehawk Neck, freediving the dark and clear blue waters of the incredible coastline draped in the tallest sea cliffs in the southern hemisphere, driving the undulating, twisting and quaint road through the town of Doo, delighting in the fresh fish treats and ice-cream from the food van at the boat ramp, and trekking the forest along the shoreline and hills, the story of Lucy is a tale I felt like I lived through in real time. It’s one I’d recommend knowing for yourself if tempted by inclination.

I admire the brilliance and four years of dedication it tool for Erin Hortle to write the beautiful story of the octopus and share it with us in this fantastic book.

We’re all human, all carrying something, and my greatest wish is that every single one of us seeks and finds ever simpler ways of being sensitive to each other’s trials, both visible and hidden, in a way that fosters the most basic of needs, human connection.

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Marlon Quinn
Marlon Quinn

Former IT stakeholder manager, now sea-changer, RIB pilot, freediving instructor, cyclist, wild swimmer and evolving creative.