30 April 2016

Book Review: A Summer at Sea by Katie Fforde

"Emily is happy with her life just as it is. 

She has a career as a midwife that she loves . She enjoys living on her own as a single woman. But she’s also feels it’s time for a change and a spot of some sea air.

So when her best friend Rebecca asks whether she’d like to spend the summer cooking on a ‘puffer’ boat just off the Scottish coast, she jumps at the chance.

But she barely has time to get to grips with the galley before she finds herself with a lot on her plate.

Rebecca is heavily pregnant and is thrilled to have her friend on board doing most of the work. Then there’s Emily’s competitive and jealous kitchen assistant who thinks she should be head-cook, not Emily.

And there’s Alasdair, the handsome local doctor who Emily is desperately trying not to notice.

Because if she falls in love with him, as he appears to be falling for her, will she ever want her old life back again?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy the book now.

I love Katie Fforde's books, so was pleased to get a review copy of her latest book A Summer at Sea on Netgalley a couple of months ago. Katie's books always focus on one particular career choice for her lead character, and in this case it was a midwife. I haven't a book centred around this profession for a long time, so was eager to dive in and find out what this particular midwife was going to get up to that would allow her to have a summer at sea as the title suggests!

As mentioned, Emily is a midwife, but is fed up with the negative attitudes surrounding her preferred method of giving birth, a home birth. She's confident in her abilities, but it seems the powers-that-be would rather women trek to hospital to have their babies, and Emily is a bit fed up of it. When her best friend Rebecca offers her a break from her job to be a cook on a puffer boat for the summer, Emily jumps at the chance of a summer on the boat in beautiful Scotland. She quickly gets into the nautical lifestyle, and makes some new friends too, including the local doctor Alasdair and his young daughter. Emily soon realises she's adapting to her new life more than she had planned, and wonders if she can ever truly go back to her old life now she's found happiness?

The book begins with Emily in her original job, and I have to admire Emily's passion for her job in midwifery. It was actually a career I consider for a while when I was younger, but then decided education was the way for me going forward. However, I loved the way Fforde writes Emily's job, advocating home birth, and her annoyance at being dictated to by the higher ups. You can see why Emily needed a break, and it was certainly something completely different. Emily does love cooking, so the job on the puffer boat sounds ideal for her.

I know nothing about boats, so was hoping the book would educate me as to what a puffer boat was and what a life on a boat like that would entail, and it certainly delivered on that for me. Fforde explains it all in excellent detail, without getting too bogged down in it, and brings the whole experience to life for me. I have to confess, it doesn't sound like my ideal sort of holiday, but I can understand how it would appeal to some people! The sights alone would be worth it. In fact, this is the second book this year I have read set in Scotland and along the Scottish coast, and both have given me the bug for Scotland, it sounds utterly beautiful and you can see why Emily was so taken with the place.

There's a little romance woven throughout the book too, between Emily and the local doc Alasdair. He's a single father, and as he and Emily get to know each other, they find that they might actually be perfect for each other. Emily, however, is certain that the puffer job is only for the summer so is wary of letting herself fall for someone, even if she is very keen on him! I also appreciated how considerate these two characters were towards Alasdair's daughter, keen to not allow her to become too attached to someone who may only have been a temporary fixture in her life, in fact the whole relationship between Alasdair and his daughter was wonderfully written.

This book was enjoyable to read from start to finish, and I liked how uncertain I was about which decision Emily was going to make even just a few pages from the end of the book - was she going to choose her head or her heart? There was quite a lot going on in the book, but I enjoyed this as it kept my interest throughout - whether it was home birthing in the dark, cooking on a boat or exploring Scottish islands, it definitely kept me interested! Fforde's writing is wonderful to read; she brings her characters to life so easily, and the way she describes her settings beautifully, Scotland certainly sounded very picturesque. A very enjoyable, fun read, perfect for packing on your holiday to relax with.

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