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Summerwater by Sarah Moss - Review

Sunday, October 10, 2021



So I was reading The Trans Issue by Shon Faye and then I had an iced coffee incident in which I upended a nearly full iced coffee over a pile of books. I ruined three books, made a few more quite sticky, and had no coffee. I was absolutely fuming, I'm sure you can imagine. I reordered the books I'd ruined, but had to pick something else up in the meantime. 

So I chose this because it was very short and I knew the replacement copy of The Trans Issue would arrive probably a couple of days later. However, when it arrived, it was damaged, so that was out of the window as it had to go back, and copy THREE had to make its way to me... But I had started and finished reading this in the meantime. I had bought it the previous week on buy one get one half price in Waterstones. 

It's set on the Summer solstice on a Scottish loch. There's a few log cabins around the loch, some of which are owned by the occupiers as holiday homes, and some of which are rented out as holiday cottages. And it's raining, it's raining all day so no sunshine is seen, and as it's Scotland in mid-summer it's light for hours, so it's just a kind of grey light all day. 

The book is made up of little vignettes of some of the people staying around the loch. To begin with, a middle aged mum goes running, even though she shouldn't be. She casts judgement on everyone else staying at the loch, including the mum and child who arrived the previous day and started playing loud music. They are some kind of Eastern European (I'm not sure it says exactly where from, but I'm sorry if it did and I missed that) and almost everyone in the book is very judgemental of them. 

A man helps his ailing wife and the two go on a trip to the far end of the loch. He thinks she can do much more than she does, but further on we see her point of view and see she's suffering from some kind of dementia and forgetting a lot of things. A teenaged boy, annoyed by his family and sick of sharing a room with his sister, goes out kayaking and is nearly taken out by the bad weather. Two young children, whose mother has agoraphobia and worries endlessly about them, go out to play on the rope swings on the beach. They meet the little Eastern European girl. 

A young couple has sex. A dad worries about his family. A teenager sneaks out. Each vignette shows us something unknown about the people in each cabin, and something which an observer may not see. I knew the book was going to end in tragedy, I could just feel it, and indeed, the ending is shocking but brilliant. I really enjoyed this book and am giving it five out of five. 

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