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A Summer at Sea - Katie Fforde

Emily Bailey escapes her real life and heads up to Scotland to help on her friend’s puffer boat. The chance of running the galley seems to good to pass. All Emily hopes for is time to get away from the hassle of work. What she finds are new friends, old friends, beautiful scenery and possibly love. But holiday romances don’t last for ever – or do they?


I have read all of Katie Fforde’s other novels so I was looking forward to reading A Summer at Sea. I find her novels easy to read escapism and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. Sometimes we all need to escape from reality to a place where we don’t have to think and her novels have always provided me with a lovely escape route from time to time.


I loved the setting of the novel. The idea of spending the summer on boat in Scotland sounded wonderful, full of fresh air and a lovely rural community and knowing that Crinan is a real place just added to the appeal. There is the feeling of friendliness between both holiday makers, crew and residents that runs through the novel.


The characters all work well together. Emily is a little too self important times and working on the puffer boat seems to ironed these creases from her character. Becca and her family are lovely, working well together, softening Emily and provided moments of humour. Alasdair comes across as a nice but sometimes distant character, often I suppose reflecting how Emily would feels she should keep him, at that distance. There wasn’t however a character that didn’t fit in the story and all worked well together.


There were a couple of things that grated slightly. One was Emily’s almost militant stance on home births and that it seemed that all GPs were against them. In my limited experience this was not the case, with both midwives and GPs not seemingly at odds. Also there was the fact that most of the characters in the novel were trying to convince Emily she wanted children, that she shouldn’t leave it too late etc. This is perhaps more true to life – I still get asked if I’m having any more children and people often scoff when I say three’s enough. Whilst not major issues or enough to spoil the story, both of these parts of the story were mentioned enough to labour the point (pun definitely intended).


A Summer at Sea is a gently paced, warm, cosy novel that is lovely escapism for a few hours, be it on a wet June’s day or any time of year. It kept me entertained, didn’t challenge my world views and took me away from the current political strife for a few hours. And sometimes that’s all you need from a book.