Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Underwater Breathing” as Want to Read:
Underwater Breathing
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Underwater Breathing

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  160 ratings  ·  47 reviews
On Yorkshire's gradually-crumbling mud cliffs sits an Edwardian seaside house. In the bathroom, Jacob and Ella hide from their parents' passionate arguments by playing the 'Underwater Breathing' game - until the day Jacob wakes to find his mother and sister gone.
Years later, the sea's creeping closer, his father is losing touch with reality and Jacob is trapped in his pa
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published May 17th 2018 by Legend Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Underwater Breathing, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Underwater Breathing

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  160 ratings  ·  47 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Underwater Breathing
Shirley Revill
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audiobook
I'm drowning underwater
In the windows of my mind
Love keeps me chained forever
Life's is cruel and so unkind

I'm drowning underwater
Way beneath the sea
In the quiet and tranquility
The truth I finally see

I finally reach the surface
The windows are thrown wide
The sun cast's her light upon me
And truth walks by my side

Life is for the living
Love she holds the key
Sometimes we have to walk away
In order to be free.
The Yorkshire coast is gradually losing land to the sea. On the cliff top where
May 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Jacob and Ella's parents have purchased a home on the crumbling cliffs of Yorkshire. There is one other home on the cliff, owned by Mrs. Armitage, that sits closer to the edge. Eventually the cliffs will crumble and both homes will fall into the sea. Sounds like a great place to live, right? Add in the "passionate" fights of their parents – and you have two unsettled kids as nothing in their life seems stable. Sixteen-year-old Jacob and six-year-old Ella hide in the bathroom during their parent' ...more
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This introduces a brother and sister, Jacob and Ella.

Their parents seem to have heated arguments passionate and inflamed while Jacob and Ella practice underwater breathing in one of the bathrooms.

It seems they have selected a home to live in which is on the edge of cliffs which will eventually eat away and destroy their home and even kill them if still living in it. Ella doesn't like living too near where she can look over and see the sea that will eventually take away they're home. Imagine, it
High on a Yorkshire cliff lives a dysfunctional family.  Mother Maggie, father Richard, sixteen year-old son Jacob, and his half-sister, seven year-old Ella.  The house, like the family itself, is getting perilously close to destruction due to shore erosion.  Jacob, who cares deeply for his little sister, tries his best to distract her from the increasingly volatile arguments and domestic strife between his mother and father.  He takes her up to the turret bathroom in the old house where they pl ...more
I'm a big fan of Cassandra Parkin I enjoyed The Beach Hut, Lily's House and The Winter's Child but the story is good but I didn't quite fall in love with this story of Underwater Breathing, as I have in Cassandra's previous novels. ...more
Louise Beech
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book was like being on a choppy sea myself - A GOOD choppy sea I have to make clear! An emotional, thrilling, and beautiful choppy sea. The backdrop of the ocean, and crumbling homes that might at any moment be swept away, was the perfect backdrop for Jacob and Ella, and their fragile existence in a house on the cliff edge. Ella and Jacob's stepmother disappear one stormy night, leaving behind Jacob and his broken, boozy father to struggle on together. When Ella returns - alone - te ...more
Paula Sealey
I always get excited when I see a new book from Cassandra Parkin, and justifiably so as this is another superb offering from her. So beautifully written, the enchanting story and characters had me totally captivated.

Ella and Jacob's childhood efforts to avoid their parents conflicts were bought to life through the underwater game they played. I could vividly imagine them in that cold and draughty bathroom, and admired Jacob's attempts to shield his sister from the parental arguments and see tha
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was looking forward to reading this book after the The Winter’s Child, the author’s previous book was one of my top reads for 2017. I wasn’t disappointed. Jacob, Ella and Mrs Armitage were characters I enjoyed getting to know.
With narrative from 2008 and ‘now’ the reader sees the two children grow and their houses getting closer to the sea. Ella, aged seven, is petrified at the thought of this happening but her relationship with Jacob and her friendship with Mrs Armitage helped her.
I loved the
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Underwater Breathing is such a beautiful book. It has a haunting melody that runs throughout, from the very beginning when we meet Jacob and Ella, right until the exquisite ending. The storytelling draws you in, as do these very different characters. All who have their own unique story to tell.

This is a stunning book. The fragility of this family unit is echoed in the fragility of the house, sat on top of a crumbling cliff. At the heart of this home is Jacob.   A young man, a teacher, and carer
Amy Buckle / Amy's Bookshelf
I have read a few books from Legend Press now, and based on the blurb alone, Underwater Breathing definitely intrigued me the most. Half siblings Jacob and Ella, (and their parents), recently moved to a quiet house which sits precariously close to the edge of a crumbling cliff in Yorkshire. Six year old Ella is scared that the sea will come and take them, so she enlists the help of her sixteen year old brother, Jacob, to help her learn to breathe underwater. This way, even if the sea does devour ...more
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This story is very slowly unfolding, and although the writing is excellent, the story did not draw me in. I kept skimming chapters to find out what had happened, but wasn't really invested in the characters to truly enjoy their story. ...more
Lozzi Counsell
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book that gets better the further into it you read, until you reach the point where you can't put it down at all. Some parts I found a little slow, which is the reason that I've put a four star rating instead of five, but that does not mean that I didn't love this book. It's a unique read and Cassandra has the voices of the characters down to a tee. Ella's little thoughts and questions are exactly what you'd hear from someone of her age group and her mother's 'mad' bits of speech are also very ...more
Sonia Almeida Dias
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This was a very powerful and beautiful book. If we look at the story in a simple, straight line, we realize it's not that unique or original. However, the different timelines in which it was written, the way the reader gets the information at a leisured pace, the richness of each character is what makes this book a great read.

The background story is harsh, dealing with mental illness and how it can affect a family, nonetheless it is written with elegance and subtleness, so I totally recommend th
Anya Leonard
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stunning, twisted and compelling. This book had more twists and turns than anything I have read recently. Continually flashing back and forward in time from the night that Jacob's mother and sister disappear from their cliff house, I could not put it down. Jacob and Ella have a game they play when their parents are fighting which is called "underwater breathing", however the theme of water continues to be toyed with throughout the novel. A great read and stunningly written, I was very moved by t ...more
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an advance copy of this book through NetGalley. Jacob and Ella live with their parents in a house that is close to falling into the sea. One night their mother takes Ella and disappears. Jacob is left behind to deal with his father's drinking problem and subsequent brain damage, while searching for his sister. When she turns up 10 years later, he has to deal with memories that he had buried. It was a pretty good book, but I felt disappointed at the ending. This was a 3.5 star book for ...more
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To start, I really liked the synopsis of this book. That's why I felt a little down when something seemed to be wrong with the file of my e-book, and for a moment it seemed I could not read it. Thank goodness for the kindle-app on my phone.

So I could not read this book on my preferred device, and usually I cannot read on my phone for long. With 'Underwater Breathing' this did not seem to be a problem at all. Quite the contrary, I could hardly stop reading. It was easy to imagine Jacob and Ella
Michelle Ryles
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-read
Anything can happen, and often does, in a Cassandra Parkin book. What I find unique about Cassandra Parkin's writing is her ability to turn a normal everyday story into something special and unforgettable with her inimitable hint of ethereal darkness.

Cassandra Parking completely nailed it in Chapter One, in my opinion, as Jacob and Ella are playing their Underwater Breathing game. Jacob is holding his breath underwater in the old bathroom trying to listen only to the steady counting of his sist
Kate Ellis
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are Writers and there are Poets. Some say that all poets are writers but not all writers are poets.

Cassandra Parkin is both a Writer and a Poet.

Reading Underwater Breathing was a delight from beginning to end.
Within the exceptionally well crafted plot is tragedy, angst, tenderness, and plethora of other emotions. Characters are believable.
I loved the way Cassandra Parkin with the eye of a Poet painted scenes, interactions, and explored the overt and subconscious 'games people play'.
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in Yorkshire, along the rugged coast, where the cliffs are crumbling away and gardens, and fences, and houses are slipping into the sea, this is a story of intense family relationships, with hints of madness and sadness and swirls of darkness that creep into your head whilst reading, and are never really shaken off.

This novel is very cleverly structured. taking place during 2007, 2008 and the present day. In 2007, brother and sister Jacob and Ella are sixteen and six respectively. They've re
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A strange and intriguing book which sweeps you along with the story and has unexpected twists along the way. The story of two siblings Jacob and Ella who play the underwater breathing game in an old bathroom when their parents are arguing passionately. One morning Jacob wakes up to find Ella and her mother gone.
Years later we find Jacob struggling to take care of his father. When Ella returns they must look into the past and face the truth of what happened.
A well told story dealing with some di
May 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I gave up on Cassandra Parkin's Lily's House, as I found it rather dull, but was intrigued by Underwater Breathing. I love coming-of-age novels set in creepy and crumbling houses, and thought I would really enjoy it. It is clearly Parkin's writing which I do not get on with. I found this to be repetitive and overwritten in places, and the first couple of chapters did not have enough intrigue for me to complete the book. The plot here is slow, as is the pacing, and it failed entirely to grab me. ...more
Nicola Smith
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cassandra Parkin is a wonderfully intuitive writer. Her prose is gorgeous and her stories are hauntingly beautiful. I had the pleasure of reading The Winter's Child last year and I loved it, so was really keen to read this, her latest book. In fact, I think Underwater Breathing has much more of an affinity with one of her earlier books, The Beach Hut, which also had a strong brother/sister relationship and a link to the sea.

This time, the brother and sister are Jacob and Ella. When the book open
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was expecting this to be an unusual book for sure – but I was also anticipating it would take a bit of effort to get into. It didn’t. It’s an exquisite read. I was gripped from the first chapter.
Jake and Ella find themselves inventing extraordinary ways to bring sanity to their family life, to avoid witnessing the strange arguments between their parents, to feel safe in a house which is not only crumbling on the inside but is also built on foundations which are set to collapse down the cliff
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Jacob has promised to protect young Ella, even from their own parents. When they argue downstairs, Jacob and Ella practice in Underwater Breathing, and they stay together. Until one day, Jacob wakes up to find his mother and sister gone.

Years have gone by, and Jacob is trapped at home with a father who remembers nothing. When Ella reappears out of the blue, they will both have to face their childh
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Discovering this author as I was feeling slumpy was nothing short of a gift. It is beautifully written, tender and full of kindness.
The narrative switches from 2007, the present day to 2008, where we meet Jacob and Ella, a brother and sister who have a unique bond; unusual but full of love and one which grabs you by the throat. Both live with their parents; though the Mother is Jacob's step-mother. They live by the English coast, with a fear of the sea and their house being swallowed up in it. M
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How long can you hold your breath underwater? That’s what Jacob and Ella do when their parents argue. That was in the past and now in the present Jacob must come to terms with a dad crippled by alcohol induced dementia, a house that is slowly disappearing into the sea and a long lost sister who he desperately wants to find.

Narrated in multiple voices, Parkin has done what she does brilliantly and created a novel full of the most wonderful characters.

I could not help but feel the angst of poor Ja
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Discovering Cassandra Parkin’s books was a gift. She is a gorgeous storyteller. Her words hold her narratives like an embrace. Underwater Breathing is no exception. Having learned to swim underwater a couple of years ago, I was immediately intrigued by the title & from the opening scene, hooked.

Jacob & his little sister Ella are siblings who lived in house on a cliff destined to fall into the sea. In a bathroom ‘too big for the house’ they practice the underwater breathing game; hide from their
Rachel (Rae)
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first read the description for Underwater Breathing I was really intrigued as I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I guess in a way it can be all the more interesting when you have no idea where the plot will take you. Cassandra Parkin has a very vivid and distinct way of bringing her stories to life and this book is a great example of this. I felt completely immersed in both the story and the characters lives. The house on the cliff is described perfectly along with seeing the wild terrai ...more
Jul 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two and a half star rating.
An old house on a Yorkshire cliff plus one other remaining thanks to the erosion of the coast. Brother and sister, Jacob and Ella and their argumentative parents and then one night Maggie just ups and leaves with Ella. The book goes there and back constantly, then and now. Not as enjoyable as I thought it would be as I didn’t get caught up in this story at all. The only thing I really liked was the house and the feeling of impending doom, knowing that sooner or later t
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Once Upon A Tyne: Our Story Celebrating 30 Years Together on Telly
  • A Perfect Heritage
  • The Book of Echoes
  • Next to You: Caron's Courage Remembered by Her Mother
  • Intermittent Fasting For Beginners: The Essential 5:2 and 16:8 Weight Loss Guide incl. 28 Days Weight Loss Challenge
  • Idle Hands
  • Adult ADHD: The Grown-Up’s Guide to Overcoming Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Just My Luck
  • After Kilimanjaro
  • Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch
  • A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom
  • Fat Cow, Fat Chance: The science and psychology of size
  • The Idle Parent: Why Laid-Back Parents Raise Happier and Healthier Kids
  • Stop Thinking, Start Living Discover Lifelong Happiness
  • An Almost Perfect Holiday
  • The Mediterranean Way of Eating: Evidence for Chronic Disease Prevention and Weight Management
  • Dear Life: A Doctor's Story of Love and Loss
  • No, We Can't Be Friends
See similar books…
Cassandra Parkin grew up in Hull, and now lives in East Yorkshire. Her short story collection, New World Fairy Tales (Salt Publishing, 2011), won the 2011 Scott Prize for Short Stories and her work has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies.

The Summer We All Ran Away (Legend Press, 2013) was Cassandra's debut novel.

Her work has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies. T

Related Articles

  Die-hard mystery fans are always on the hunt for their next supremely satisfying whodunit. To help you stock that Want to Read shelf, we asked...
45 likes · 21 comments