Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Sea of Straw by Julia Sutton

ReviewerJJ Marsh

What we thought: A novel that will stay with you a long, long time.

Everything about this book is precise, emotional and beautifully judged, just like the craftsman’s cobblestones on the cover.

In the mid-60s London is swinging, while Portugal is under the grip of a cruel and controlling dictator. Jody leaves Lancashire for a holiday in the sun. Her interest is in the climate, meteorological, not political. Only when she meets young artist Zé does she realise a fraction of what it means to live under oppression and observation by the secret police.

Their passion thrives amongst the colours, scents and sensations of the beach, but when Jody has to return to monochrome Lancashire and Zé is called to do his military duty, their bond is stretched to breaking point.

This is a love story between two people and one country. Insights on the Salazar regime in such recent history come as a shock, yet the reader basks in the sensory, detailed settings, the gradual growth of our characters and an awareness of being given a Technicolor vision of a time, a place and a human bond.

Superbly written, this story conjures high emotion without mawkish sentiment, and takes you on a journey of extraordinary personal courage.

You’ll enjoy this if you liked: Shadow of the Wind, Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Hungry Tide

Avoid if you don’t like: Realities of life under dictatorships, marital strife

Ideal accompaniments: Sardines grilled on the beach, vinho verde and Mariza singing  Ó gente da minha terra

Available on Amazon

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