At Sea – Laurie Graham

Enid thinks she knows her husband and after twenty years of marriage she is sure she does. However, when on a cruise where her husband is a lecturer a passenger recognises him – but not as Bernard Finch as Willy Fink.

All of a sudden Enid’s life takes a different view. Not only is she learning about her husband she is also learning how to enjoy herself with the fellow passengers. No more does she want to be cooped up in a cabin trying to remain aloof just because her husband is a lecturer and conducting tours off from the ship when they dock.

And so as the cruise continues you see Enid break out and break away, her almost innocent discovery of the internet is tinged with sadness as she realise how far away she is from so many other people, including her husband.

Bernard on the other hand is trying to hold onto the past, through his lectures and tours and his wife. However it is the past which is the problem for Bernard and those with long memories have decided that the past should have a great effect on the present. For Bernard it has an impact on the future too.

This is a novel, where you are aware of certain facts early on, the author is trusting your intelligence to understand about Bernard and his relationship with Enid. His arrogance at his own position, which is tested throughout the novel and the airs and graces which he inflicts on his wife and others makes him a character that you can dislike and dislike well. I never at any point felt sorry for him or doubted these feelings. The sign of a well written character. Enid is the polar opposite and you can feel for her and you do wonder why, but you know if you stick with the novel you will see Enid not necessarily seek revenge but seek a new path which overwhelming satisfaction for herself and the reader.

I was hooked by the idea of a lot of characters effectively trapped in a situation (being on a cruise) and being forced together in situations where you have nowhere to hide and if you do it seems to make the problems worse. A great read if you want a book with a bit of substance and it was not a predictable ending at all, in fact it left you with a couple of questions that needed answering – the book stays with you a while. I recommend.

This is the first Laurie Graham book I have read but in fact the second that I have owned. Why? I don’t know. I picked up The Homemakers of America many moons ago as it seemed my sort of book, but for one reason or another I never got round to reading it. It got moved about sort of started then back on a shelf until during a cull one day it went to another home. I picked this book up i the bookshop as the cover and the blurb on the back struck a chord. Again the book sat on my shelf a while. It was not until I knew I was going to see Laurie Graham talk at the Guildford Readers Day that I thought I should pick it up and at least make some sort of effort.

I started on the train up there, but had to put it down as I get rather motion sick which was a shame as I was hooked and wanted to read more. And now having read it I would like to visit more of  her novels. 


2 thoughts on “At Sea – Laurie Graham

  1. Your comment about “characters effectively trapped in a situation” made me think of this book as being a bit like a golden age detective novel in the Agatha Christie mould; a sort of “Murder on the Orient Express” without the corpse – at least I’m assuming Enid doesn’t kill her husband.

  2. I liked this one too when I read it. I loved watching Enid emerge from her cocoon and the internet thing was inspired.

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