I am indirectly, and slightly, acquainted with the author, so I bought this book as a courtesy, expecting it to be .... as we say, "sincere". That is, something I would have to work to get through and then think of something nice to say about.
Was I wrong!
This is a gripping novel, the kind that keeps you attached to the book until you finish. And in this case, wanting a sequel.
If you were a slightly quirky teenager, who didn't quite fit in with any social group ... didn't care that much about football, or boys (depending on your sex) or clothes or who was 'seeing' whom, or pleasing the authorities so that you would be able to go into a well-paying job in a few years ... then you will strongly identify with the two young people who are the central characters in this book, and/or with the parents of one of them. (The parents of the other one may sound too ghastly to be true, but sadly they are not. I think I may even know the originals.)
The plot carries you along, and you get those insights into character that confirm, or focus, or extend your own intuitions about people. I was slightly worried that this or that cliche-situation would appear, but that never happened. The central characters are poignantly appealing -- gripping -- but not perfect. Nor is the reality around them. Just like real life.
In short, it's a thoroughly-readable, enjoyable book.
I really enjoyed this. It was light but not frothy and the characters were engaging. The Cornish setting is evocative and the families are people everyone knows. There are no major happenings in the book but one finds it matters what the outcomes will be for the two young people.My favourite character was Cassie, Martha's mum, because she is every mum without losing her own identity as an individual. I hope there will be a sequel to this novel. I want to know what happens next and that is a pretty good recommendation for a book which is essentially a light read.
Sea Stirred is a beautifully written coming of age story. Set in the rugged north of Cornwall, we join this lively and close-knit family on their annual summer holiday. The young protagonist, Martha, is devoted to her books and something of a loner, happily lost in the magic of literature and aspiring to be a writer one day herself. Although she fits in comfortably with her family and loves to join in with their activities, she is fiercely independent and is just as content to wander along the beach alone, looking for treasures. It is during one of these forays that she bumps into a boy coming in the opposite direction, clearly enjoying exactly the same occupation. Martha's life is about to change....
Caroline Williams is a talented writer, vividly capturing the turbulent emotions of first love - the excitement and angst; the joys of shared adventure; the secretive hoarding of personal treasures, be it a pebble found on the beach offered in friendship or the loan of a much loved book. The development of Martha and Alaric's relationship is not over romanticised but a gentle and realistic portrayal of a preteen friendship between like minded people. I enjoyed the effect of the dual first person narrative - though Martha herself and also by Cassie, her mother, who provides perspective and distance to Martha's story as it unfolds. Cassie watches the blossoming friendship with a mixture of motherly angst and approval. She gives support and advice when needed and learns to let go, allowing her daughter to grow. The evocative descriptions of Martha's family life through these two narrative voices are amusing, keenly observed and comforting. Their family unity and strength is juxtaposed, however, by the portrayal of Alaric's dysfunctional family, who have a very different set of values.
The characters in the novel are rounded and believable which, coupled with the author's empathy and eye for detail, transports the reader into living, albeit vicariously, alongside them.
I particularly loved the clever ending whereby the author succinctly brings us back to the beginning. A terrific read and I'm looking forward to the sequel!