At Sea by Laurie Graham

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At Sea by Laurie Graham

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This is a bright and breezy story about opposites attracting, secrets, cover-ups and the like. All wrapped in in jaunty, nautical surroundings.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Quercus Publishing Plc
ISBN: 978-1849162180

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I've already read Graham's The Future Homemakers of America. It was good, but not particularly memorable so I was keen to read this novel. The reader is introduced to two vastly differing opposites in the shape of Mr and Mrs Finch. Well, Lady Enid (English) and Professor Bernard (American) Finch, to be precise. And we're transported straight away onto the decks of the liner Golden Memories and Graham starts to have her fun: with the language, the characters and the whole set-up.

And straight away, I recognized Professor Finch as an out-and-out snob. Although he's American (and small-town America at that) he's now, in his later years, more English than the English. Not only that, he's got a string of rather unattractive traits which run throughout the novel and are deliciously described by Graham in glorious detail. Graham doesn't miss a creative writing trick and has great fun with her rather tasteless and brash (stereotypical I know, but it still makes for entertaining reading) American cruise-goers. I could give dozens and dozens of wonderful examples which would get many laughs if it were a sit-com, I'm sure). I'll try to restrain myself to the odd one or two, but it'll be difficult.

For example, one American couple is busy de-crying the Orient Express. The complaints are endless. ... no air-conditioning ... no hot tub ... Leaves you speechless, doesn't it? Or, in the words of Lady Enid (more of her later) ... leaves one utterly speechless.

Although there is a credible plot here, it isn't centre stage. The rich, comic language is the star. It's excellent. There's so much lovely dialogue that this novel almost doesn't need a plot. The down-to-earth American names, the pretentious names of the various parts of the cruise liner etc are all wonderful. It really made me smile.

And as for Lady Enid - a rather plain woman of certain years, I absolutely adored her. She's a brick. And she's also far too good for that shallow husband of hers. Certain people are at great pains to point this out. But will she listen? She seems to be having the time of her life. She indulges in activities, adventures and friendships which had been a mystery in her life, to date. It seems as if she's making up for lost time. It's all lovely, heart-warming stuff. Lady Enid fairly leaps off the page. Her life is just as interesting, if not more so, than Bernard's. But he'd never admit to that. He needs to be the centre of attention at all times. Must be rather tiring for his wife, I would have thought.

Yet another hilarious episode is when the Finches receive a handwritten social invitation from another couple on board. Enid id delighted. She wants to go along. And Bernard's response? There are certain lines one does not cross. I mean to say, look how they've spelled 'night' and 'till'. Sloppy, modern language is not Bernard's best friend.

You could say that this rather mediocre sea journey is also very much a major part of life's journey for the two central characters. Add in to the mix, lots of interesting, sometimes eccentric secondary characters who pop up now and again and it all results in a very bright and breezy read. This novel is ideal holiday reading and if you're going on a cruise ... Recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this appeals then you might like to try Under the Duvet by Marian Keyes.

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Buy At Sea by Laurie Graham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy At Sea by Laurie Graham at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy At Sea by Laurie Graham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy At Sea by Laurie Graham at


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