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 dancehalls 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?
This is a wonderful book, beautifully written and tells a tale of a young couple, Ted and Rene, and their married life over several decades.
It is charming and heartwarming yet realistic and honest in it’s telling of the couples inability to communicate and be open with each other. They had been brought up and lived through a period when it was expected of women to be in the home and the men to provide.
A time when it was considered wrong to express any needs beyond those that kept the family fed and clothed, kept house, kept your children clean, safe and well. This might be enough, was enough for some, perhaps for many.
However, for those who wanted something a little different, had perhaps had it briefly only to have it snatched away or tried to grasp it but never quite managed to hold on to it, there could be a sense of loss such that the ability to love wholeheartedly, to feel completely, was seemingly impossible.
Yet for Ted and Rene events came along that might turn things around but would they?
The story begins at the statue of Eric Morecambe where the paths of two strikingly different couples briefly cross with the man who is responsible for maintaining the statue. Years later two of those four return.
We will learn as Cath Barton intertwines these lives over the intervening years what happens to them and why the two return to the bay.
With prose that are both succinct and yet as spacious and sweeping as the bay in which the story is set. Cath Barton, in the precise art of the novella, captures the mood, the setting, the time and characters beautifully in this evocative and touching tale.
I would certainly highly recommend in the sweep of the bay a book which, for me, conjured up wonderful, happy memories of my childhood, youth and of my parents. Who, in different ways, made sacrifices, worked incredibly hard (as only the men – and women – of Lancashire know how) in order to make the best and most loving home for me and my siblings.
I enjoyed this wonderful book so much that I have bought the authors first novella The Plankton Collector and am about to read that. (N.B.: read and is another wonderful read).
Published: Louise Walters Books (LWB) on 23 November 2020 in paperback and e-book. | ISBN 9781999630577
Buy: LWB | Your local bookshop
Author: Cath Barton was born in the Midlands and now lives in Abergavenny, Wales. Cath’s favourite novel is Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and her favourite novella is Animal Farm by George Orwell. Her top poet is U. A. Fanthorpe.
Her short stories have been published in anthologies in Australia, the US and the UK, most recently in Normal Deviation (Wonderbox Publishing) and Nothing Is As It Was (Retreat West books) and in literary magazines The Lonely Crowd and Strix. Cath was Literature Editor of California-based Celtic Family Magazine (2013-2016).
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.
In the Sweep of the Bay is her second novella published by LWB. Here’s Cath reading her favourite paragraph from her book on the LWB YouTube channel, where you can also find a recording of the online Zoom launch party held on Sunday 22 November 2020.
Whilst on an enhanced mentoring scheme for writers, run by Literature Wales, she has been working on a collection of short stories inspired by the work of the sixteenth century Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch. Her short stories and flash fiction can be explored at Cath Barton /stories.
Her short story collection, The Garden of Earthly Delights, is anticipated early 2021 to be published by Retreat West Books .
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