10 books that will transport you to the water’s edge, recommended by members of our Seasalt Words Book Club
For all who long to feel the salt spray on your face and the sand under your feet: here are 10 books to transport you to the water’s edge. From epic ocean voyages to moving personal journeys, our list includes recommendations from the Seasalt team and Book Club members, covering a mix of genres.
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1. The Light Between Oceans, ML Steadman
A boat washes up on the shore of a remote lighthouse keeper’s island. It holds a dead man – and a crying baby. The only two islanders, Tom and his wife Izzy, are about to make a devastating decision. They break the rules and follow their hearts. What happens next will break yours.
2. On Chapel Sands, Laura Cumming
Autumn 1929 – a young girl is kidnapped from a beach. Five agonising days go by before she is discovered safe and well in a nearby village. The child remembers nothing of these events and at home, nobody ever speaks of them again. Decades later, Laura Cumming delves into the mystery surrounding her mother’s disappearance.
3. A Year of Marvellous Ways, Sarah Winman
Marvellous Ways is eighty-nine years old and has lived alone in a remote Cornish creek for nearly all her life. Drake is a young soldier left reeling by the Second World War. When his promise to fulfil a dying man’s last wish sees him wash up in Marvellous’ creek, broken in body and spirit, the old woman comes to his aid. A Year of Marvellous Ways is a life-affirming story about the magic in everyday life, the pull of the sea and the healing powers of storytelling.
4. Love of Country, A Hebridean Journey, Madeleine Bunting
The Hebrides hold a remarkable place in the imaginations of Scotland and England. Because of their unique position, they have been at the centre of a network of ancient shipping routes which has led to a history of cultures colliding and merging. Home to a long and rich Gaelic tradition, they have attracted saints and sinners, and artists and writers, inspiring awe and dread as well as deep attachment. Over six years, Madeleine Bunting travelled to the Hebrides, exploring their landscapes, histories and magnetic pull.
5. Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens
For years, rumours of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say.
Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder.
6. The Curve of Time, M.Wylie Blanchet
This is a biography and an astonishing adventure story of a woman who, left a widow in 1927, packed her five children onto a 25′ boat and cruised the coastal waters of British Columbia, summer after summer. Muriel Wylie Blanchet acted single-handedly as skipper, navigator, engineer and, of course, mum, as she saw her crew through encounters with tides, fog, storms, rapids, cougars and bears. She sharpened in her children a special interest in the ancient Haida culture and in nature itself. In the book, she left us with a sensitive and compelling account of their journeys.
7. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, David Mitchell
Be transported to a place like no other: a tiny, man-made island in the bay of Nagasaki, for two hundred years the sole gateway between Japan and the West. Here, in the dying days of the 18th-century, a young Dutch clerk arrives to make his fortune. Instead he loses his heart.
Step onto the streets of Dejima and mingle with scheming traders, spies, interpreters, servants and concubines as two cultures converge. In a tale of integrity and corruption, passion and power, the key is control – of riches and minds, and over death itself.
8. Star of the Sea, Joseph O’Connor
In the bitter winter of 1847, from an Ireland torn by injustice and natural disaster, the Star of the Sea sets sail for New York. On board are hundreds of fleeing refugees. Among them are a maidservant with a devastating secret, bankrupt Lord Merridith and his family, an aspiring novelist and a maker of revolutionary ballads, all braving the Atlantic in search of a new home. Each is connected more deeply than they can possibly know. But a camouflaged killer is stalking the decks, hungry for the vengeance that will bring absolution.
9. The Outermost House, Henry Beston
Henry Beston planned to spend only two weeks in his newly built cottage on the outer beach of Cape Cod. As summer drifted into autumn, however, he found himself so entranced by the landscape’s rhythms and beauty that he could not bear to leave. Settled in his isolated house facing the North Atlantic, Beston spent a year immersed in the raw, elemental life of the great beach around him. Impassioned and richly layered, it is a matchless evocation of the spirit of a place and the enduring appeal of the wild.
10. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
Artist’s daughter Penelope Keeling can look back on a full and varied life: a Bohemian childhood in London and Cornwall, an unhappy wartime marriage, and the one man she truly loved. She has brought up three children – and learned to accept them as they are. Yet she is far too energetic and independent to settle sweetly into pensioned-off old-age. And when she discovers that her most treasured possession, her father’s painting, The Shell Seekers, is now worth a small fortune, it is Penelope who must make the decisions that will determine whether her family can continue to survive as a family, or be split apart.