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Oystercatchers

by Susan Fletcher

At the bedside of her sister Amy who is in a coma after a tragic accident, Moira recounts her life which has been profoundly affected by the intense jealousy she has felt for Amy since she was born. A dark compelling tale, not a cosy read, with a central theme of sibling jealousy, told in lyrical prose in both first and third person. You may struggle to feel any sympathy for Moira's character who comes across as a cold, bitter, self-centred person who has been a poor daughter and a deceitful wife; my dislike for her intensified as the book progressed! The sea is a constant presence in the story and I loved the many and varied descriptions of the Welsh and Norfolk coasts, at times so vivid that you can almost smell and taste the salty air. The ending came too soon, and left me wanting more!

Extract

She dreamt, soon enough, of the sea. She dreamt of the wake of a boat, slapping against the limestone quay. The gill of a fish. She saw the dimpled water when it rained, off Barafundle. One night, she was a gull on a black rock, and when she woke up the next morning, she had to blink the dream away. Sleet outside. She scuttled down the gravel path with her woollen hat on, and after breakfast, a thought came to her.
In the library, she found a map of the Norfolk coast and opened it up on a smooth mahogany table, cleaned the sleet off her glasses and took off her hat. A big sea. A better one, surely - for it was the North Sea, which sounded cold, and choppy, with big waves and foam, and better gulls; to stand on its shore would be much better, she felt, than any Stackpole beach. All spume and pirate coves. And hers.

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