Sunny Days and Sea Breezes by Carole Matthews

I have read and loved all of Carole Matthews’ books, and Sunny Days and Sea Breezes was no exception. Needing some time alone, Jodie escapes to the Isle of Wight and her brother Bill’s houseboat, Sunny Days. Cue the arrival of Marilyn, hired by Bill to clean the houseboat and look out for his sister. Jodie has never met anyone like her before, with her flamboyant clothes and unusual turns of phrase, but Marilyn turns out to be exactly what she needs.

Gradually the other people she meets in Cockleshell Bay – her neighbour Ned, living statue George, and Ida who runs the café – enable her to see that what will help her most is to loosen up, and try new experiences, not hide herself away from the world.

Eventually her past catches up with her, and she has to return to reality. Carole Matthews deals very sensitively with some extremely upsetting subject matter in Sunny Days and Sea Breezes – loss of a child, grief and infidelity – but still delivers an entertaining and uplifting tale full of hope and the importance of friendship.

The first person narrative works well because we have to wait for Jodie to gradually reveal what has happened to cause her so much pain. All the characters are well drawn and believable, but not all are particularly likeable. I thought Della was behaving oddly from the start, but had no idea of the depth of her treachery. No spoilers, but there is a scene at the gym involving her handbag and clothes that is just priceless.  

I believe Carole Matthews wrote Sunny Days and Sea Breezes after enjoying a holiday on the Isle of Wight, and this shines through the glorious descriptions of life on the island. I am definitely keen to take a trip and see for myself.

Thanks to the author, Sphere and NetGalley for a review copy.