So far my 10 Books of Summer has turned up some really good reads but this is the one that I’ve recommended the most. I put it on my list after reading Madamebibilophile’s brilliant review here.

Set in a cabin park in Scotland during the summer solstice, twelve people are on holiday with their families as the rain pours down. From an elderly couple who have been married for years to a couple about to be married, teenagers with their parents, first time parents and couples with young children, we go inside the thoughts and cabins of each of them as they observe and react to their circumstances. But there’s also a mother and daughter who are new to the park and are different and along with the sharp observations there’s a tension that seeps its way through the pages.

Everybody will recognise themselves in one or more of the characters! For me it was in the family of the mum and dad and their teenagers, Alex 16 and Becky, 14. And in particular when Becky is doing the washing up to the prattling annoying ness of her parents’ instructions. I thought they were awful, I was fully on the side of Becky, she was doing the washing up wasn’t she?! And then mum comes over and :

‘The kettle boils and mum reaches round Becky. . . for her box of herbal teabags. She chooses one each night, as if they weren’t all the same anyway, as if dead leaves and hot water constitute some kind of celebration.. . Mmm, she says, now I’m saving the last of the cinnamon ones, I suppose I should have the lemon and ginger, I’m going to have to drink it sometime, but maybe mint and fennel tonight. Becky could wreck Mum’s whole system of self-punishments and rewards by making herself a cup of apple and elderflower tea one morning. Buy a a bottle of wine, she thinks, or Vodka. Go down the pub and get off your face on Baileys. . . ‘

I sat up aghast; it’s me, I was appalled! The running idiosyncrasies of family life are pitch perfect, the mundane and tender as well as the downright annoying.

A mother and daughter staying in one of the cabins haven’t been seen there before, they look different, the little girl is to tidily dressed for a holiday by the beach and pinewoods. No one is quite sure where they come from but guess at various eastern European countries. And then there’s a story between this little girl, Violetta and Lola who’s the apple of her father’s eye and is on holiday with her parents and brother Jack. The story leaves the two girls and Jack playing on a swing at the beach, we don’t know the outcome but nuggets of information drip, drip through the other characters’ stories, until we meet up with them again at the end. It’s tense and unnerving and raises questions of bullying and racism in contemporary society, both blatant and unconscious.

This was the first novel I’ve read by Sarah Moss and I’ll definitely be reading more, the bookseller I bought this from suggested Ghost Wall as my next read which is also recommended by Madamebibilophile, so that’s next for a start.

16 thoughts on “Summerwater

  1. Intriguing—I too like character-based novels (maybe because I’m on the spectrum I’m hoping to learn more about human behaviour!)—but I also am influenced by what book bloggers think. Your assessment, or Fiction Fan’s? What a quandary!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have this on my list but haven’t come across it yet. Soon, hopefully.
    Having stayed in many caravan parks (as they are called here) I can well imagine the setting as ideal for bringing a diverse group of people together for a story. So, were you the mother or the daughter in that scenario?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ghost Wall is excellent – in fact it’s so good that I found Summerwater a bit of a disappointment by comparison. The ending felt rushed and somewhat too dramatic to me, and while the mix of characters was an interesting feature, I wanted more time with some of them. A smaller group with more character development / depth might have been better. Still, Sarah Moss is an excellent writer and I’ll be interested to see what she does next!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well that’s good to know about Ghost Wall! I was definitely more interested in some of the characters than others, and actually the first 2 or even 3 sets were the ones I found the least interesting, but then we’d all have different favourites wouldn’t we like a Richard Curtis film!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s