Narrated by Lucy Scott
I started listening to this on a whim. It had a plotline that had the covid pandemic and the lockdowns in Britain in it, and as I have mentioned it earlier, I have been wondering how authors would be incorporating it into their plotlines. Although it has been two years since it all began, it is hard to imagine a world where it never happened, even in fiction. This book does not lean heavily on the issue but works around it, except for all the characters taking turns putting down the distancing rules as if they are too ridiculous to work. This happened once too often to put me off. I know a lot of the restrictions felt a little too far for many, but almost every character had a go at how it spoils something, small and large.
That tiny rant aside, I really enjoyed the book. I am starting to appreciate these books with older protagonists and relatively stable (but differing) lives.
Multiple women seek out the sea at Brighton to find new meaning in their life or work hard on their current ones. The original Salty Sea-gals has three women who have been meeting up for open water swimming in the sea, even in winter. They are experienced and have created a pattern. The oldest, Helga’s body, is fighting her even as she keeps everyone entertained with her quick remarks and supportive commentary, even as she educates everyone around her about the birds they regularly don’t pay attention to. Dominica is nursing her sorrow. She misses her husband and is not sure she wants to go back to work the way she was once used to. Tor has not come out to her family and is struggling with the kind of life she leads with her girlfriend.
Then come the two women who end up finding this group and a whole new strength they did not know they had. Claire feels underappreciated at home and struggling with body image issues. Her arc was probably my favourite because it was gradual and had a lot of meaningful conversations before it reached its conclusion. Maggie’s life is the most turbulent. She lives her life on Instagram, and that false facade collapses, leaving her struggling. She is trying to find her possibly homeless son and thinking about all the ways her decision might have brought him to that point. Their plotline was also quite adventurous.
Although I may not have delved deeper into the original trio, I did enjoy their individual trials too. It is a very full book, with a lot of meaningful interactions. The narrator did a pretty great job in bringing all the people to life. I was able to imagine very different people based on how the author and, subsequently, the narrator portrayed them. It is not easy to have multiple protagonists and ensure they come across as separate individuals as well as feel like they all got their own time in the story.
Here, I felt like both of the above points was achieved, and it is easy for me to recommend this to readers of this genre.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.