14 November 2015

Book Review: The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas

"Dooleybridge, County Galway. Population: 482 (or thereabouts). The last place Fiona Clutterbuck expects to end up, alone, on her wedding night.

But after the words 'I do' have barely left her mouth, that's exactly where she is - with only her sequined shoes and a crashed camper van for company.

One thing is certain: Fi can't go back. So when the opportunity arises to work for Sean Thornton, the local oyster farmer, she jumps at the chance. Now Fi must navigate suspicious locals, jealous rivals and a wild, unpredictable boss if she's to find a new life, and love, on the Irish coast. And nothing - not even a chronic fear of water - is going to hold her back.

Join Fi on her romantic, unpredictable adventure as she learns the rules of the ocean - and picks up a few pearls of Irish wisdom along the way..."

Rating: 4.5/5

Available to buy now.

Much earlier this year, I was sent a review copy of this book. Jo Thomas was a new author to me, despite the fact she has sold very well in the eBook market this year. I liked the sound of the book, and when I had a bit of a gap in my reading schedule a few weeks ago, I decided that I had to give this one a go. I wanted to see what people were raving about, and now I have finished it, I can see why people have enjoyed Jo's books so much. I certainly will be looking out for more from her after reading this book.

Fiona Clutterbuck has ended up in a small Irish town called Dooleybridge, with only her wedding dress and wedding shoes for company. She won't tell anyone why she has fled England and clearly her own wedding, and sets about getting a job and somewhere to stay as soon as she can. Sean Thornton hates to see someone in distress, so when he overhears that Fi needs a job, he offers her one working on his oyster farm. Fi readily accepts, but is worried that her fear of water is going to hinder her, but Sean isn't about to let that happen. As she gets to grips with her new job, new work partner and new home, Fi is determined to keep her past back in England, but will she be able to keep the truth from her new friends?

I really enjoyed Jo Thomas' style of writing throughout this book. It was written in the first person from Fiona's perspective, allowing the story to slowly develop through her eyes. Also, due to this we are made to wait a long time to find out exactly what happened to make her run out on her own wedding, and why she has ended up in Dooleybridge. It certainly leant an air of mystery to the story, and when it was finally revealed, I was surprised because it wasn't what I had guessed along the way! Fiona was a fun character, I really liked the way she threw herself into her new job, and her positive attitude despite her upheaval.

Whilst I really liked Fiona, my favourite character in the book was the other main character, Fiona's new boss Sean. He runs an oyster farm, knows pretty much all there is to know about oyster farming, and is a bit of a recluse as well. Fiona is determined to make him open up, and I really enjoyed the scenes where he let go a little bit and we saw some of his personality shine through. Thomas has written him really well because even in his more grumpy moments, I really enjoyed reading his story and piecing him together as a person and what made him tick. The pairing of Fiona and Sean was wonderful, two lost souls coming together in strange circumstances, but it worked so well.

Thomas writes very well of the village of Dooleybridge. I haven't been to Ireland myself, but Thomas writes it in such a way you can close your eyes and imagine you are standing there in your wellies, watching Sean farm the precious oysters, in the drizzle and the cold. Her descriptions are wonderful, really bringing the settings and characters to life. Even the more minor characters made up of the Dooleybridge residents, were well crafted and quite unforgettable! As the story went on, the pressure of Fiona to reveal all ramps up, and I enjoyed reading to find out how it was all going to end for her, and what choices she would have to make.

Although I am not a fan of oysters - well, I say that but I've never tried them, but given that I hate seafood, I'm willing to bet I won't like them - but this book was a very enjoyable read. Some of the descriptions of the oysters and farming process ran on a bit for me, but it certainly did paint a vivid picture in my mind, and I certainly know a lot more about this topic than I did before I read this book! It was a thoroughly enjoyable book from beginning to end, and Thomas' writing really was a joy to read. I can't wait to read more from Jo Thomas now, what a gem to find on my bookshelf :)

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