Borrowed this from the library last week, along with several other books. Not quite sure why I go to the library when I have about 100 books awaiting my attention at home, but I did and I do and when I picked this book by Laurie Graham off the shelf I knew I was in for a treat as I remember reading Gone with the Windsors by this author a few years ago and loving it.
At Sea is set on a cruise liner. Now I love stories set on board - romances, murders etc just like Strangers on a Train only in this case it is a ship. Premise is the same, our main protagonists are cooped up in one place surrounded by people they cannot escape from - secrets, death and mayhem are sure to arise. In this case it is a Secret.
Enid is married to Bernard, tall, handsome, elegantly dressed and charismatic. He is a lecturer on this particular cruise ship. They need the money otherwise he would not lower himself to do something so unbefitting his intellect and stature and he despises all the passengers: "Bernard was magnificent as ever. His hair was looking particularly leonine this morning and he wore his charcoal seersucker with a canary yellow bow tie. He gave them one of his masterly sweeps through history.............I'm afraid it was all over their heads. Bernard read to them from Tertullian and what did his first questioner ask? 'Where will be the best place to buy a leather jacket?'....
Frankie Gleeson is a fellow passenger blessed with a long memory and as soon as he claps eyes on Bernard he is positive he has met him before. In fact, he is sure that Bernard is his long lost childhood friend "You put me in so much mind of Willy - Willy Fink" Bernard cuts him dead and escapes as soon as he can, but Enid stays behind and discovers that this mysterious Willy not only has the same birthday as Bernard, but also has a mother called Serafina, as does Bernard. Enid soon realises that her husband is hiding his past and all is not as it should be - another fellow passenger who attended Princeton, as did Bernard, wants to have a chat with him to reminisce about old times but it seems that Bernard is not so enthusiastic.
This story is sheer delight and fun all the way. Enid gradually unravels the truth about her husband and realises what she has known all along though she has tried to hide it, that he is a snobbish pretentious bore who married her when he was at a loss what to do with his life when he is out of a job and with no home, and then has spent most of their married life impressing upon her how ignorant she is and what low tastes she has. Boy do I know how she feels.........
The wit and humour of Laurie Graham's writing is difficult to describe or to illustrate, it is an elusive thing but it had me grinning and chuckling all the way through. As the voyage progresses Enid begins to break out of her shell, she gets her hair done, buys new clothes and discovers the joys of sex. Their marriage will never be the same again. And then, on the last night of the voyage, during Gala Night Bernard goes missing. It seems he has fallen overboard, or perhaps committed suicide as by now nearly everyone knows he is a fake. Enid is a widow and has to face up to life without her husband.
Going to stop right there - you have to buy this book and read it for yourself. You will love it, I promise you and if you are going on holiday to get away from the Olympics or the rain or both, take this to the beach with you and enjoy. Better still, take it on a cruise.
Another book by this author which I read and reviewed was The Importance of Being Kennedy. Here is the link to my take on that one: