Review – A Cottage by the Sea by Carole Matthews

By | May 6, 2013

I remember the days when I used to take half a suitcase of books on holiday – just in case I ran out – but these days it’s so much easier to just load up your Kindle with some favourite authors and know you’re ok for a fortnight.  I read this book under such difficult circumstances – on holiday in Goa, 104 degrees and 85% humidity, struggling to pick it up between massages, manicures and cocktails – but it really was a quite perfect holiday read.

Essentially this is the story of three couples – the women all friends for many years – getting together for a holiday at a remote Pembrokeshire cottage.  First, there’s Grace and Harry – he spends more time on Twitter and Facebook with a glass in his hand than he does spending time with his wife, and their marriage is in a poor state of repair.  Then there’s Ella and Art – she’s the homemaker, he’s a free spirit, a band manager who spends long periods on the road and is reluctant to be tied down. And finally there’s Flick – predatory hunter of married men, who surprises everyone by turning up with Noah, and amazes everyone by declaring her intention to marry him.

Grace is the narrator, a strong character in need of some joy in her life. She is immediately attracted to Noah, but has a strong sense of right and wrong, and the way she should behave.

The week at Cwtch Cottage is filled with drama, complicated relationships and divided loyalties.  The Pembrokeshire backdrop is stunning, wonderfully described as the couples walk, go “coasteering” and birdwatch on the islands.  This is a wonderful story about female friendship, warm and enriching but severely tested. There are some serious moments, but Carole Matthews’ wonderful humour shines through – an emotional rollercoaster, but a thoroughly enjoyable one. 

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