“Sharp, searching, thoroughly imagined, utterly of the moment . . . it throws much contemporary writing into the shade’ Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall.”


Summerwater by Sarah Moss is a deceptively slim novella that resonates and packs an emotional punch that belies its size. Set over the course of a rainy Summer weekend in a small holiday park in Scotland , the reader is introduced to a mixed bag of characters, some are owners of cabins  in the park, and spend their Summers there, and others who are renting for a short stay.

There are characters of all ages from young children to an elderly retired couple, and as the reader works through the book we see chapters from each of their perspectives. One thing that I found particularly interesting was the pairing of some chapters so that we got to see the perspectives of each member of a couple for example, or that of a pair of teenage siblings.

Moss does a fantastic job of blending pathos and humour, with a poignant chapter about a man caring for his wife who is showing symptoms of the early stages of dementia juxtaposed with a chapter about a young couple’s sex life that will probably resonate with many. Another highlight that showed the author’s skilful way of observing the small moments of daily life was a chapter that we spend with a young mother wondering how she can best use a precious hour of child-free time. Scattered amongst these chapters is some truly beautiful writing about nature and the environment, and while that could have seemed out of place in such a short book, they were actually some of my favourite passages.

The ending is definitely abrupt and brutal, which I found a little jarring but not entirely unexpected, having read other books by this author.

I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.


Reviewed by:

Annette Jordan

Added 26th July 2020

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Annette Jordan