The thing to remember about this story is that every word is true. If I never told it to a soul, and this book did not exist, it would not cease to be true. I don't mind at all if you forget this. The important thing is that I don't.
On a hot, still morning on a beautiful beach in Jamaica, Decca Aitkenhead's life changed forever. Her four-year-old boy was paddling peacefully at the water's edge when a wave pulled him out to sea. Her partner, Tony, swam out and saved their son's life - then drowned before her eyes.
When Decca and Tony first had met a decade earlier, they'd become the most improbable couple in London. She was an award-winning Guardian journalist, famous for interviewing leading politicians. He was a dreadlocked criminal with a history of drug dealing and violence. No one thought the romance would last, but it did. Until the tide swept Tony away, plunging Decca into the dark chasm of random tragedy.
Exploring race and redemption, privilege and prejudice, All at Sea is a remarkable story of love and loss, of how one couple changed each other's lives and of what a sudden death can do to the people who survive.
©2016 Decca Aitkenhead (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
"A story of absolute heartbreak, but also a story of unbelievable courage." (Davina McCall)
"An entrancing love story; a horrifying death story; a book about class, family, growing up, taking risks and learning how to be strong. This is a memoir like no other. Read it once, and it will be inside your head forever." (Andrew Marr)
"If you buy just one book this year, make it this one. I have never read anything like it and wished it would never end." (Jennifer Saunders)
"A brave book about emotional truth. It brought a tear to my eye, and will be deeply empowering for those who read it." (Tanya Byron)
"A sad, sad story of a remarkable relationship, beautifully told. Huge universal themes such as love, loss and grief are conveyed in intimate detail and with searing honesty. Anyone who has loved, lost or grieved - that's all of us - should read it." (Alastair Campbell)
"A beautiful and painful guidebook through the taboo subject of death. Decca made me miss someone I've never met and, for today at least, savour those I love." (Russell Brand)
"A remarkable story of sudden tragedy and grief, of love and resilience." (Arianna Huffington)
"All at Sea grabs you from the first three lines and masterfully pulls you into an ocean of startling and redemptive grief. A surprising love story, searingly honest, a book of family, loss, death and ultimately life. A triumphant tour de force." (Eve Ensler)
"Unbearably moving and almost brutally compelling." (Adrian Chiles)
I so wanted to love this book, when I first saw it in a bookshop in my town I pored over it and resolved to read it as it sounded a very moving tale. Then when I saw it on audible I decided to listen instead.
The true story is incredibly sad and I feel so uncharitable for not having enjoyed this book but I really didn't. I found the narrator - who is also the author - to have a very grating voice with a lot of emphasis on words that didn't seem to need stress on them, and as a result I was soon fairly fed up. I wished they had chosen a professional actor to read the book.
However I persevered to the end because I did want to know the outcome and find out what happened so it was compelling in that sense. I feel a huge amount of compassion for the plight of this poor woman and her kids, and yet I found so much of the book to be embarrassingly concerned with what people might think of her, or trying to defensively paint a portrait of their lives before or after the key event that would portray them all in a positive light! Ultimately while I wanted to get involved and care, and although I did find parts of the book moving, this was very hard work to listen to mainly because the author didn't come across as a particularly nice person. I was puzzled because of the fact that although dealing with grief and being shell shocked by everything, she didn't speak much about missing her husband after he died or of longing for him as I felt sure she would. A lot of the book focuses on outer descriptions of actions or conversations, but what went on in her head and heart is somewhat absent and this left me feeling odd and unsettled, and as though I hadn't had the window into someone's thoughts after a loss that I was expecting.
Decca's ability to translate feelings into words makes all at sea a wonderful book. I have never heard the journey of loss and grief so insightfully told. If you have experienced the loss of a partner yourself you will relate to so many feelings and situations and realise you are after all not that strange
1st audio book I've listened to and I was captivated from start to finish. not only is Aitkenhead an extraordinarily brilliant writer but her tone and delivery of narration totally brought this heartbreaking story to life. A phenomenal book by any standards.
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