I’m a slightly broken record, but Sarah Moss is one of my favourite authors. She is phenomenal at building tension in her books and I was eager to read her latest offering, Summerwater. Following on from Ghost Wall, Summerwater is another short read at 200 pages. Small is so often mighty, and this is no exception.
I was quite surprised when I was reading this, that it all felt very normal, even mundane, (not a criticism). It is summertime in a Scottish holiday park, and it is pouring with rain. All of the cabin residents are cooped up and we are introduced to them chalet by chalet. We see their internal monologues and fantasies, which are written to great effect. Tired parents, bored housewives, disgruntled husbands, moody teenagers, retired folk, young couples and families all feature.
Ever so subtly, it is drip-fed through the narrative that there is a young girl not dressed appropriately for the weather. It also becomes apparent that one cabin has been playing loud music at all hours of the night. Seemingly no big deal, but just you wait! And so it continues: The rain, the boredom, the small annoyances and bickering… right through until the last 10 pages, when something utterly terrible happens.
My advice with this book, is to read it very carefully. There are some very small clues that feature early on which the final hinges on. I also appreciated the fantasising of Mad Men’s, Don Draper, which makes more than one appearance but might be overlooked by skim reading.
I found the final pages completely gut-wrenching. Having waited so long for Sarah to show her cards, when she does, she does so with devastating effect! If you are like me, the sights and sounds of the last chapter will stay in your mind and in your ears long after you finish reading.