#bookreview: SUMMERWATER by Sarah Moss

Delighted to share with you my review today, for Summerwater by Sarah Moss.  To be released August 20th it’s published by the wonderful Picador Books.  Thank you so much to Camilla Elworthy for my lovely proof copy. Isn’t it gorgeous?




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.



Set in a Scottish holiday cabin park on a very rainy summers day, we follow each cabin’s occupants as they show us a snapshot into their lives.

With chapters being told from the perspective of individual family members of each cabin, we learn of how they are all spending their time trying to enjoy a very wet holiday.  We read of their thoughts and desires and experience their fleeting sightings of the others staying on the park.

Each cabin houses a different family or couple and the author ‘s writing wonderfully describes their musings of that single day, yet somehow also managers to project to the reader far more about their emotions and mindset of how they are feeling about their current lives in general.

A tired mum, wanting some time to herself, another reflecting on her own life, yet at the same time, still trying to do the right thing and keep the rest of her family happy, who runs for miles wondering how far she could keep going..

An elderly couple, who have been holidaying at the park for years, the woman now seemingly a little frail and unsteady on her feet, and another much younger couple. Him trying out ways to perfect a simultaneous orgasm, her happy to go along, but wishes he would hurry up so she can get the bacon butties made!

A teenager in his kayak and children playing by the loch, I found this a richly descriptive novel not just of it’s characters but of the landscape surrounding the park.  Vivid imagery is used to full effect and gives the book a great sense of setting.  As I read I could feel the rain on my skin and smell the rich damp earth.  With few words the cabins are wonderfully described and I could easily picture them in my minds eye.

There is also another family or group of people, that we only learn of as we are told by the other characters, of how they have been plying loud music each night, annoying the other holiday makers and keeping them all awake.

We catch a glimpse of the little girl from this family as she is described by another when they encounter each other down by the loch, but all we read about is second hand, and as the day moves into evening this family feature in a dramatic conclusion, as the holiday makers leave the claustrophobic but safe comforts of their cabins and gather outside.

A super read which reminded me a little of Fran Cooper’s books, in their writing style and seemingly effortless way they conjure up so much of a feel for a person and place in such a short time.  I haven’t read any Sarah Moss novels before but will definitely be looking into doing so.


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