Book Review: Summerwater by Sarah Moss – #Summerwater #BookReview

On the longest day of the summer, twelve people sit cooped up with their families in a faded Scottish cabin park. The endless rain leaves them with little to do but watch the other residents.

A woman goes running up the Ben as if fleeing; a retired couple reminisce about neighbours long since moved on; a teenage boy braves the dark waters of the loch in his red kayak. Each person is wrapped in their own cares but increasingly alert to the makeshift community around them. One particular family, a mother and daughter without the right clothes or the right manners, starts to draw the attention of the others. Tensions rise and all watch on, unaware of the tragedy that lies ahead as night finally falls.

Justine and her family are on holiday. Time in the wilds of Scotland is a brief and much-needed interval from normal life. At least it is for her husband and children, who play and laze and revel. For Justine, this is her old routine in a new location: still she must take her husband’s complaints and jibes, accept that he will not help with the chores; still she must feed and bathe and care for her children. Her only respite is the time she has to herself in the morning, when she can slip into her gear and run along the trail. But this one relief in life could have devastating consequences.

Summerwater follows several characters all staying at a cabin park in Scotland. They keep their distance for the most part, quietly observing and judging each other. These observations range from the hilarious to the heart-breaking. You cannot help relate and sympathise with them.

The descriptions of Scotland throughout are lyrical and powerful, articulating the wild and untameable beauty of this county. Moss writes with an emotional acuity that is poignant and striking; it grasps the reader, head and heart, and holds on. This is no brief, passing thing. I was thinking about this book days after finishing.

Summerwater explores the emotions and motivations of its characters with poetic and arresting prose. It is visceral in places, powerful and unflinching when it meets the dark depths of the human condition, others it is light, with a dry wit that draws a smile from the reader. I loved it. Summerwater is quite a slow-paced novella, it gives us time to ‘meet’ and understand the characters, before an ending that is will shock the socks off you. 

To purchase a copy of this book, you can follow the links below:



About the Author

Sarah Moss is the author of seven novels and a memoir of her year living in Iceland, Names for the Sea, shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize. Her novels are Cold Earth, Night Waking (Fiction Uncovered Award), Bodies of Light (shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize), Signs for Lost Children (shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize), The Tidal Zone (shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize) and Ghost Wall (long listed for the Women’s Prize, shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize). Her new novel, Summerwater, appears with Picador in August 2020

Sarah was born in Glasgow and grew up in the north of England. After moving between Oxford, Canterbury, Reykjavik, West Cornwall and the English Midlands, she now lives by the sea near Dublin.

With thanks to Camilla and Picador for my ARC, which I received in exchange for an honest review!

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