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.


Miles to Go

It’s been a busy few months.


Right back at the beginning of the summer my sister started giving me one-word prompts to encourage me to write more blog posts. I lasted a week before she gave me ‘milestones’ and I stalled.


Ironically, when I would have normally been writing a blog post, I was actually out on a training walk for my Three Peaks climb, literally passing milestones.


The reason I failed, though, wasn’t through lack of inspiration, it was just through being ridiculously busy, that all my blog writing fell by the wayside – apart from a quick book review a couple of weeks ago.


Throughout the whole time I was thinking on and off about the topic of milestones, part of my brain vaguely aware that I needed to write this post.


The way I see it, there are three types of milestones:


  1. Future milestones – These are the ones we all look forward to. Looking forward to the day that we get married; all the things we want to do before we’re thirty; getting that promotion at work.


  1. Unseen milestones – The ones that we weren’t expecting that we only notice when we look back on our lives. The first time that we met our best friend, that decision we made that shaped the course of the rest of our lives, the night out that turned into The. Best. Night. Ever. ™


  1. Historic milestones – The ones that everyone knew where they were. Kennedy’s assassination; Diana’s death; Rachel getting off the plane.


A lot of people focus on the first set, the future milestones. For me, these are the ones that mean the least. Nothing actually happens when we hit thirty, and those moments of your promotion or your wedding day – they’re merely the transition of one thing to another thing. The moment of change, not the moment of achievement.


The concept of a bucket list is something I used to subscribe to. I used to say before I’m thirty, I’m going to run the marathon. I’m going to go to Australia.


Until I realised that there’s one future milestone that’s going to happen to all of us, rending that bucket list pointless.


The bucket list is a list of things we all want to do before we die? Well, instead of sitting there writing your list, get out there and do them, because you might die tomorrow. That’s the philosophy I live by.


I’ve been to Australia, I’ve run the marathon. This year I went to Los Angeles and I climbed the Three Peaks. I even had a go on the Crystal Maze.


2016 has not been the greatest of years. It will likely go down in history as one of those years we all remember. 2016 will become the new 1997, the answer to every guess the year question in pub quizzes.


Bowie. Wood. Brexit. Trump. These are just some of the things that will make 2016 a historic milestone. We’ll all know what we were doing in 2016 – but maybe, just maybe we’re passing through some unseen milestones. There’s nothing we can do about the events that have already passed – but maybe we can turn them into something – anything – positive.


Maybe this is the year we hit rock bottom and humanity changes for the better. Maybe historians of the future will look back on 2016 as a turning point. Maybe they won’t.


But maybe you will. Maybe what you’re doing right now, is going to change your life. You never know.


The historic milestones are going to happen, our future milestones will be what they will be, but the unseen milestones, these are the moments we can shape ourselves, shape our futures.


Stop worrying about what’s going to happen when you hit thirty, or when you’re going to get married.


Go out there and make a milestone.


Me? I’m going to sit on my sofa and read a book. Like I said, it’s been a busy few months.