A(nother) Review: Sail Away by Celia Imrie

After last week’s heart-stopped, testosterone-filled spy thriller Capture or Kill, this week’s #ThumpingGoodRead2018 is a complete 180-degree-turn. And another book that I wouldn’t normally read (starting to realise how niche my reading list can be!).

 

It’s Celia Imrie’s Sail Away.

 

Everyone will know Imrie of course for her acting and has most famously appeared on TV alongside Victoria Wood in Acorn Antiquesand in films such as Calendar Girlsand – rather left-field – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

 

But Imrie, in latter years, has also dabbled in writing and Sail Away is her third novel. It follows two women who are in their – let’s say twilight years – Suzy Marshall and Amanda Herbert.

 

Through a series of misunderstandings, they both find themselves on a cruise across the Atlantic. They meet all sorts of strange people, including a few who can’t be trusted. Their lives are inter-connected in ways they don’t yet know, and they are thrown together in a way that might just solve all their problems.

 

Sail Away is NOT a love story.

 

It most books store it sits in a strange genre of books – that of general fiction, which is essentially the home for any book that isn’t a thriller, crime, sci-fi or old-lady-romance. With the soft pastel colours on the cover you might be forgiven for thinking it is a love story.

 

Most books are these days.

 

But this is a story about two women, friendship and farce.

 

I have a problem with ‘funny books’ – I often think humour is the hardest of all emotions to invoke in a reader. Particularly me. I *LOVE* slapstick and farce, I love watching people fall over and run in and out doors.

 

It’s the sort of humour that relies on fast-paced visual gags. Even if you can describe them perfectly, you probably won’t be able to do it at the pace that keeps it funny.

 

However Imrie manages to strike the right tone with Sail Awayand I really enjoyed it – especially as you can easily imagine the BBC turning it into a lottery-funded British film starring a list of people who all have Dame or Sir before their names.

 

Like I said, it’s not the sort of book that I would normally read – I love prolonged explorations of death and terrible things that make me cry – but this is the perfect book to give you a break from all the angst of those.

 

Next time I’m heading on holiday, I’ll definitely be looking for more books by Imrie to read around the pool.

 

Sail Awayis available now from Bloomsbury Publishing and will be half price in all WHSmith stores until Wednesday 13thJune.

 

You can find out more about Sail Away, the Thumping Good Read award and all the other  contenders by visiting the WHSmith blog.

A(nother Review): Capture or Kill by Tom Marcus

After five years of writing blogs the inevitable is finally happening and my blogs are colliding with my work.

 

We’ve just relaunched the Thumping Good Read Award– a prize that WHSmith ran from 1992-2003 and for the next seven weeks my blogs are going to coincide with the seven featured titles in-store.

 

It might appear that I’m selling out slightly and becoming a corporate mouthpiece for ‘The Man’ – but the truth is, a few months ago, I spent a lot of time reading a lot of books, and darn it, I’m going to use that for personal gain if I can.

 

I’m also actually really excited for Thumping, it’s a great prize that will celebrate the best of commercial fiction – and hopefully it’s exciting for the authors too – the winning writer will get £10,000!

 

You can find out more by visiting the WHSmith blog here

 

Meanwhile, on this blog, you’ll find my thoughts about each of the books and about the experience of choosing the shortlist.

 

First up is Capture or Killby Tom Marcus.

 

What can I say about this book?

 

Literally, what can I say? When it was first submitted, we didn’t actually receive a copy of the book straight away because MI5 were still going through it and checking to see if they would allow it to be published.

 

I’m not even sure if I can say that!

 

Capture or Killis about Matt Logan an MI5 agent who – driven by personal tragedy – leaves behind his life to become part of a deniable unit known only as Blindeye. No rules stand in their way, they can do anything they need to to achieve their mission, but if they’re caught doing what they’re doing, the government will claim they acted alone.

 

Think 24 when Jack and Chloe go a bit rogue and you’ve about got it.

 

I loved 24, but this isn’t exactly my normal sort of book. That was a challenge for me during the whole reading process, trying to find brilliant books across multiple genres. What we didn’t want was seven amazing crime titles, or a whole raft of tearjerkers (suspect the collective noun for that is probably a tissue).

 

The whole point of Thumping Good Read is to showcase a title for everyone. A whole family could buy the lot and everyone would find a different title they loved.

 

The rest of this year’s shortlist are all brilliant books in their own right, including some thrillers – but Capture or Kill is relentless action from start to finish. But that’s not all.

 

In a way, the genres that I don’t normally read were the easiest to put forward for the shortlist. They all have great stories that transcend the genre that they’re being presented in, so that even if you’re not necessarily into the heart-pumping action of a spy thriller you can still enjoy it.

 

And if you DO love heart pumping-action and detailed descriptions of the undercover operations then you’re in for an extra treat, because this has all of that and more.

 

In short, it’s a Thumping Good Read.