Tidal Flats: A Novel

Gold Medal in Literary Fiction
2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards


By Cynthia Newberry Martin

This is the story of a marriage.

Mary Cassatt Miller falls for famous photojournalist Ethan Graham, who is equally in love with her. But for months at a time, Ethan’s work takes him to the dangerous streets of Afghanistan, and Cass wants a husband who comes home at night. Then there’s the issue of family—he wants one; she doesn’t. Actually, even thinking about children is troubling for Cass after growing up with a mother who didn’t want her and a father who was never home. Plus there’s the accident she witnessed as a young girl. What Cass and Ethan do want is a life together, so Ethan agrees that after three years, he will stop traveling—whether Cass agrees to children or not.

Now, nine weeks before their third anniversary—the day Ethan will be home for good—Cass anticipates all that the future will bring. In addition to Ethan at home, later in the year she will become the director of Atlanta’s Howell House, the Westside home for three older women, known to the staff as the Fates. These strong women give Cass something Ethan cannot—a layer above her.

When Ethan tells Cass he’s going to squeeze in one last trip to Afghanistan before their anniversary to make sure his new project gets off the ground, she worries even more than usual for his safety, wondering if he will ever give up the work he loves. And if he won’t, well, she will not repeat the life her parents had. As the clock counts down, it doesn’t help that Singer, the artist-bartender, is always in Atlanta, and the enthralling Setara, the subject of Ethan’s most famous photograph, is also his business partner overseas.

Then, a new danger in Afghanistan changes everything.

In this elegant and honest debut novel, one couple must navigate that fine line between the things they want for themselves and the life they want together, and it appears that each will have to make a choice—the person they love or the life they want.

5 ½ inches by 8 ¼  inches, 336 pages

Hardcover IBSN 978-173267682-4


Praise for TIDAL FLATS

“Cynthia Newberry Martin is a tremendous writer, with a Woolfian talent for taking the full measure of small moments. Her work is both subtle and revelatory, and I’ve been waiting a long time for this book.”

Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers and Music for Wartime

“With deep insight and unending sensitivity, Cynthia Newberry Martin shows us to ourselves: our penchant for choosing lives that will crack us open, our resilience when our deepest fears come true. In scenes both vivid and emotionally complex, Tidal Flats excavates the interior of a long-term marriage, how it demands the impossible, offers the unimaginable. This book is a stunning, heart-expanding debut.”
Pam Houston, author of Deep Creek: Finding Hope In The High Country

“I admire Martin’s capacity to render her characters with the dignity of complexity. And I double-admire that she takes that same care with her settings, turning Place into a player that has its own “human” heart. The novel swirls with light and love.”

Joshua Mohr, author of Sirens and All This Life

“Exquisite! A gorgeously observed account of one woman’s life, lived in our era of global reach, of international obligations, of domestic worries and domestic triumphs too. Cynthia Newberry Martin has found the perfect story through which to share her rare wisdom. Brava!”

Robin Black, author of Life Drawing

“For once, a novel of big ideas that is also filled with bold and uncommon events. In Tidal Flats, Cynthia Newberry Martin, a storyteller at the top of her game, creates a universe of betrayal, compassion, and regret in which two people’s love for each other is surpassed only by their loyalty to their convictions. I was glued to the page.”

Jacquelyn Mitchard, author, The Deep End of the Ocean

“Cynthia Newberry Martin’s TIDAL FLATS is written out of the rough wisdom that knows that love is a peculiar, dynamic force, and all we can do against it is to be alert and open and awake. This is a story of making and unmaking and making again, with no neat resolutions or pat answers. It’s a beautiful book.”

Paul Lisicky, author of Later and The Narrow Door