Published by Louise Walters Books
Available in ebook and paperback (23 November 2020)
Source: My own copy
ABOUT THE BOOK
This warm-hearted tale explores marriage, love, and longing, set against the majestic backdrop of Morecambe Bay, the Lakeland Fells, and the faded splendour of the Midland Hotel.
Ted Marshall meets Rene in the dance halls of Morecambe and they marry during the frail optimism of the 1950s. They adopt the roles expected of man and wife at the time: he the breadwinner at the family ceramics firm, and she the loyal housewife. But as the years go by, they find themselves wishing for more…
After Ted survives a heart attack, both see it as a new beginning… but can a faded love like theirs ever be rekindled?
“A tender and moving study of a marriage” Alison Moore, author of the Booker short listed The Lighthouse
My thanks to Emma of damppebbles Blog Tours for the invitation to take part. I’m delighted to be sharing my review on paperback publication day, and congratulations to Cath Barton and publisher Louise Walters.
At just over 100 pages, this novella packs in so much story and emotion. Spanning the decades from the 1950’s until the new Millennium and beyond, it follows the marriage of Ted and Rene from when they first met at a Friday night dance in Morecambe in the 1950’s and how they adjust to the routines of family life.
Ted worked in the family ceramic business, whilst it was considered the norm for the wife to stay at home and look after the home and family. So whilst Rene had to give up her job, Ted did well for himself however for various reasons, he was never able to fully share that success with Rene.
Over the years, discontentment and bitterness are left to fester and somehow talking to each and simple acts of affection become lost amongst family responsibilities and duties. There is still love there but both Ted and Rene find it difficult to articulate their desires and unhappiness. I felt particularly sorry for Ted, Rene seemed a woman discontented with her lot and with a tendency to suck the joy out of life.
The story isn’t just about Ted and Rene; there are other characters that feature too, each with their own stories of love, chasing dreams and missed opportunities. It’s also a reminder of social history with references to popular TV personalities of the time and political events such as the miners strike.
This is a gentle and poignant read, beautifully written in an eloquent and understated way. There is no dramatic storyline, just a simple narrative with observations about life and marriage that lets you get close to the characters and feel for them. I felt a sadness for both Rene and Ted, for the love they had for each other, despite losing something of themselves along the way. It was a lovely read and one I have no hesitation in recommending.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cath Barton lives in Abergavenny. She won the New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella in 2017 for The Plankton Collector, which was published in September 2018 by New Welsh Review under their Rarebyte imprint. She also writes short stories and flash fiction and, with her critical writing, is a regular contributor to Wales Arts Review. In the Sweep of the Bay is her second novella.