Friday, 8 September 2017

Review ~ A Sea of Straw by Julia Sutton

Cheyne Walk Press

What's it all about...

Will a man walk two thousand kilometres for a woman? In 1967, Ze will. Salazar's Portugal has become a prison for him.

1966: When Jody, young mother and designer from Manchester, arrives on the Lisbon coast, she brings the lure of 'Swinging London' to Portuguese painter Ze 's existing dreams of freedom. A nascent love is interrupted when, back in England, husband Michael forces her to choose between their 2-year-old daughter Anna and Ze . And Ze, at home in Lisbon and grounded by the state's secret police, can only wait.

For both Jody and Ze, love is revolution. And personal and political threads weave their story, a period piece set amid the then socially conservative North of England, the light and rugged landscapes of modern Portugal, and the darkness of the dying years of Europe's longest-running dictatorship. A Sea of Straw, with its pervading atmosphere of saudades, is a quest for love in revolutionary times.

What did I think about it...

There is much to consider in this debut novel set amidst the politically volatile background of 1960's Portugal and the steadfastness of Northern England, and which looks at a love affair which attempts to survive in a country which is in turmoil.

It's a difficult story to say too much about as I am conscious of not giving anything of the story away so what I will say is this is a well written and astute first novel. It takes a little while to get used to the time switches, moving as it does between different time frames, people and places, but once I had settled into the author's writing style I found that my understanding of the novel became easier. The characters are well developed and believable and such is the draw of the story that I felt like I had gone back in time to an era in history that, regrettably, I knew very little about. Salazar's Portuguese dictatorship as seen through the eyes of the young artist, Ze shows, very eloquently, of the struggle for identity and of the constant threat of fear.

A Sea of Straw is one of those clever stories which makes you think about what has gone before.

More about the Author can be found by clicking here 

Julia Sutton is an artist and writer from East Anglia, who has lived and worked for much of her adult life in continental Europe. Following eleven years in Paris, she returned, in 1997, to her native Suffolk coast, where she now lives and writes full-time. her short stories are published in literary magazines and online. A Sea Of Straw is her first novel.

Follow on Twitter @juliamarysutton

Follow this link for more information  - click here 

My thanks to the author for sharing her story with me.



  1. I think readers will find this a helpful review, Jo, so thank you.
    And here is an author Blogpost of mine, in which I explain why I chose to experiment with this structure. Hope that helps too!

    This author blogpost may also help to explain why I chose to experiment with this particular structure.

    1. Thanks Julia. I've added your blog link into the post so people can take a look :)


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