FREE delivery: Thursday, Dec 8 on orders over $25.00 shipped by Amazon.
Ships from: Amazon Sold by: Premium Goods LLC.
Other Sellers on Amazon
100% positive over last 12 months
Follow the Author
Summerwater: A Novel Hardcover – January 12, 2021
Enhance your purchase
A BEST BOOK OF JANUARY: O Magazine
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR in the UK: The Guardian, The Times
“[Moss] writes beautifully about... souls in tumult, about people whose lives have not turned out the way they’d hoped. . .There’s little doubt, reading Moss, that you’re in the hands of a sophisticated and gifted writer." ―Dwight Garner, The New York Times
The acclaimed author of Ghost Wall offers a new, devastating, masterful novel of subtle menace
They rarely speak to each other, but they take notice―watching from the safety of their cabins, peering into the half-lit drizzle of a Scottish summer day, making judgments from what little they know of their temporary neighbors. On the longest day of the year, the hours pass nearly imperceptibly as twelve people go from being strangers to bystanders to allies, their attention forced into action as tragedy sneaks into their lives.
At daylight, a mother races up the mountain, fleeing into her precious dose of solitude. A retired man studies her return as he reminisces about the park’s better days. A young woman wonders about his politics as she sees him head for a drive with his wife, and tries to find a moment away from her attentive boyfriend. A teenage boy escapes the scrutiny of his family, braving the dark waters of the loch in a kayak. This cascade of perspective shows each wrapped up in personal concerns, unknown to each other, as they begin to notice one particular family that doesn’t seem to belong. Tensions rise, until nightfall brings an irrevocable turn.
From Sarah Moss, the acclaimed author of Ghost Wall―a “riveting” (Alison Hagy, The New York Times Book Review) “sharp tale of suspense” (Margaret Tablot, The New Yorker), Summerwater is a searing exploration of our capacity for kinship and cruelty, and a gorgeous evocation of the natural world that bears eternal witness.
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now.
From the Publisher
A Best Book of the Year at NPR, The Guardian, The Times (London), and The Irish Times
A Best Book of January: O Magazine
A Most Anticipated Book of 2021: Paperback Paris
Most Anticipated at The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, The Irish Times, Stylist, and iNews
“[Moss] writes beautifully about... souls in tumult, about people whose lives have not turned out the way they’d hoped. . .There’s little doubt, reading Moss, that you’re in the hands of a sophisticated and gifted writer."
―Dwight Garner, The New York Times
"Cunning and contemplative."
“Pulsing, glorious… What makes Moss's work so distinctive: the lovely countermelodies of earth, animal, and sky that contextualize human dramas.”
―Annalisa Quinn, NPR
“Sarah Moss has an uncanny ability to prickle the reader’s skin. . .The novel’s explosive conclusion feels like witnessing swamp gas bubbling to the surface and catching fire.”
―Lorraine Berry, The Boston Globe
"The chapters build a superb sense of foreboding... Ms. Moss is masterly with loomings and premonitions."
―Wall Street Journal
"The final paragraph of Summerwater is one of the most chilling in recent memory, pointing to the devastating consequences of bigotry and hatred, and to the undeniable mastery of Moss’s storytelling."
―The Chicago Review of Books
“Sharp, searching, thoroughly imagined, Summerwater is utterly of the moment, placing its anxious human dots against a vast, indifferent landscape; with its wit and verve and beautiful organization, it throws much contemporary writing into the shade!”
―Hilary Mantel, author of The Mirror & the Light
“A rich parade of inner lives . . . [A] thoughtful investigation into community and difference.”
“This broodingly suspenseful and engagingly intimate novel is a miniature portrait of family life in various forms, of old age and childhood, framed by wild nature, which becomes a character in itself . . . With consummate skill, the author reveals the inner lives of a handful of characters, their meditations by turns intensely moving and laconically humorous . . . while conjuring up both landscape and atmosphere with lyrical delicacy. The novel that began at dawn ends at nightfall with a satisfying though awful denouement that steers clear of melodrama.”
―Kirkus, starred review
"Will leave you breathless."
―Good Housekeeping, The Best Books to Read in 2021 So Far
“The natural world is a dominant force in this absorbing novel . . . Moss’s insight into her characters’ inner lives is among the many strengths of Summerwater . . . For more than a decade, Sarah Moss has been crafting quiet, complex novels that make an indelible impression on the reader. This is one of her best, and most accessible, and should bring her work to a wider audience.”
―John Boyne, Irish Times
“Nothing escapes Sarah Moss’s sly humor and brilliant touch. Deft and brimming with life, Summerwater is a novel of endless depth. A masterpiece.”
―Jessie Burton, author of The Miniaturist
“Building up a sense of dread in a novel is a subtle art, and Sarah Moss is an absolute master of it . . . Part of the genius of Summerwater is the way it makes you question whether there is even going to be a storm at all . . . It certainly feels like an accurate reflection of our confused, scared, angsty present. Perhaps Moss’s point, though, is that we’re all so busy worrying about the things we can’t influence we’ve lost sight of the things we can.”
―Roger Cox, The Scotsman
“When it comes to the workings of the secret heart, and the exchange between mind and body, this is a writer with few equals (I’m thinking of Anne Enright and Han Kang and not many others) . . . This a writer in whose gifts we trust, and she pulls off feat after feat of daring and empathy and wisdom.”
―Andrew Meehan, Herald Scotland
“There is a sense of unease from the beginning of the novel, that builds―almost imperceptibly―to a deafening thrum of dread, and by the time I reached the end of the novel I could hardly breathe. So, so good.”
―Alice O’Keeffe, The Bookseller
“From the author of Ghost Wall comes another taut psychological novel tinged with menace . . . Sarah Moss roves across a wide cast of characters, dipping into internal worlds marked by anxiety―from casual grumbling about the wrong type of people moving into the area to a newlywed husband’s obsession (unshared by his wife) with simultaneous orgasm. With uncanny insight and wit, Sarah Moss weaves this polyphony of voices into unfolding tragedy, and a meditation with broader social and political implications.”
―Cameron Woodhead, The Sydney Morning Herald
“Moss heaps up the pointers to something terrible with the cruel skill of a horror technician. By the midpoint, reading feels as stressful and claustrophobic as any wet-weather getaway, and just as impossible to get out of before the appalling end . . . The world is getting worse. Moss, though, only seems to be growing more brilliant.”
―Sarah Ditum, The Times (UK)
“Moss is a writer who can say more than most others in half the space. Her latest, a haunting story of alienation set on a Scottish campsite, is the summer’s most interesting read.”
“Slim but electrifying... Moss takes us inside each of the characters’ minds brilliantly effectively.”
―The Times (UK)
“Masterful. . . Wickedly funny virtuosic writing [with] a dark core.. . [Moss] plants tiny details that raise the pulse. As a result, like the characters, we soon start to see danger everywhere... In Summerwater, Sarah Moss establishes herself as our preeminent chronicler of anxiety.”
―Tara K. Menon, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Though her characters are trapped in their heads as well as in their cabins, Moss has fun letting them loose on the page . . . The smell of blood is never far away in Moss’s work . . . You could call it her breakout novel, which is ironic, since its subject is lockdown . . . it’s attentive to the way we live now and to our divisions . . . there’s range and vitality to the voices.”
―Blake Morrison, London Review of Books
“Tragedy looms but Moss buoys the reader along with wit and compassion as she flits between viewpoints. Endlessly interesting.”
―Hephzibah Anderson, Daily Mail
“This story of a turbulent Scottish holiday is suffused with fascination . . . Briefly juxtaposed lives are caught in vignettes sharp with telling detail and acute observation. Comedy often ripples across the surface . . . The ending is sombre, but the scenes leading up to it in this latest display of Moss’s imaginative versatility shine with intelligence.”
―Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times
“Summerwater benefits from the time that has passed since [Ghost Wall], encompassing a wider group of characters to tackle a wider set of issues . . . Few works of fiction published this year will capture the essence of Britain today as well as Moss does in Summerwater . . . Moss has an extraordinary gift for creating fully-formed, authentic people that could have stepped from real-life onto the page, and here she has us eavesdrop on their internal monologues.”
―Charlie Connelly, The New European
“A new Moss novel is always a gift.”
―Anthony Cummins, Daily Mail
“[Sarah] Moss is a writer who can say more than most others in half the space. Her latest, a haunting story of alienation set on a Scottish campsite, is the summer’s most interesting read.”
―Sarah Hughes, iNews
“Summerwater is a triumph and confirms Sarah Moss as one of the best writers in Britain today.”
―Fiona Mozley, author of Elmet
"Boy, does Sarah Moss know how to evoke an eerie sense of foreboding . . . Evocative and compelling reading, particularly if you're on a staycation this summer.”
―Cyan Turan, Cosmopolitan
“With delicate precision, Summerwater takes the moral and emotional temperature of a whole society. It is matchless, too, in its blending of steely insight with humor and compassion.”
―Pankaj Mishra, author of Age of Anger
“[Sarah] Moss’s work has an uncanny prescience . . . There is something all too familiar in the uneasy frustrations of her multigenerational cast of 12, incarcerated in damp cabins, enduring lashing rain, bored and on a knife edge . . . Moss cleverly subverts expectations . . . Fluent and absorbing . . . assured yet brutal.”
―Catherine Taylor, Prospect
“Sarah Moss [is] one of the most interesting writers working today.”
―John Boyne, Daily Mail
“A slim, spare, suspenseful tale, mud-flecked with disquieting horror.”
―Patricia Nicol, The Daily Mail
“Summerwater is a beautiful book, written with delicacy and grace, yet with an undertow as dark as the Scottish loch by which its characters are holidaying in ignorance of the tragedy to come. If you are a huge fan of Sarah Moss’s work, as I am, you will find yourself parceling it out, to read a chapter a day, like a gift.”
―Louise Doughty, author of Platform Seven
“Gorgeously written [and] atmospheric, with a sense of unease that builds to the shocking ending.”
―Joanne Finney, Good Housekeeping
“Sarah Moss is the most brilliant writer. She deserves to win all the prizes.”
―Joanna Trollope, author of City of Friends
“This novel―about crisis and isolation in its own ways―moved and encouraged me in difficult times. Another deft, sensitive, crystalline book by Sarah Moss; I loved it.”
―Megan Hunter, author of The End We Start From
“Tense and atmospheric.”
―Francesca Brown, Stylist
“I read this brilliant novel in one greedy gulp. Sarah Moss is an acute observer of modern life and puts humanity on the page with deep understanding and wit.”
―Cathy Rentzenbrink, author The Last Act of Love
“A masterful and immersive exercise in tension; here are the many conflicting voices of modern Britain in microcosm. Sarah Moss reminds us that society is only ever two short steps away from collapse.”
―Benjamin Myers, author of The Offing
Praise for Sarah Moss
"Sarah Moss possesses the rare light touch when it comes to melding the uncanny with social commentary."
―Maureen Corrigan, NPR
“Moss’s star is firmly in the ascendant.”
“Moss has quietly, and it must be said remarkably quickly, been putting out some of the most interesting and carefully sculpted novels of recent years.”
“One of our very best contemporary novelists.”
About the Author
- Publisher : Farrar, Straus and Giroux (January 12, 2021)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 208 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0374105936
- ISBN-13 : 978-0374105938
- Item Weight : 9.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.41 x 0.88 x 7.81 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #825,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Rain, rain, rain. People looking out windows, watching others, being both nosy and uncaring. Don't know those people, don't want to. It's too rainy to go outside, but they do anyway. Need fresh air. Its always raining in Scotland. Kids are bored.
The book takes place over a period of one day in the Scottish Trossachs. It has rained constantly, hard, heavy rain, for a long time. Characters paid well for a vacation, but at the wrong time. The log cabins are old, not well built, a group of log cabins located close together on a large loch. The people keep to themselves, many of them have children, wanting to introduce their kids to the world of nature. Before each chapter is a page pertaining to the natural world. Ladies have to cook, clean, do housework, just as they do at home.
The first chapter introduces Justine, a runner, a believer in healthy food and healthy eating. She gets up very early to get away from her family before they wake up. She runs and runs and runs, thoughts running through her head. She could have done more with her life, traveled more if she hadn't settled for Steve. Mother of two young boys, her doctors told her she has a heart defect, quit her passion for running. Readers get to meet David, a retired doctor, who goes hiking in the rain, he loves to hike. He is an owner of his cabin where he lives with his wife. Wife, Mary, sweet lady, early dementia, takes art classes which she likes. Her mind wanders back and forth to her childhood and when her grown kids were very young.
Claire has two young children, Izzy, five, saying constantly, Mummy, Mummy, Mummy. Patrick is fifteen months and needs to ride around in a buggy. Dad decides to take them out in the rain so Claire can have a break, a short time for herself. She thinks back to when she was working, a good job, dressed well, went to nice places, met fun people. Times have changed. Milly, who when making love to Josh, imagines herself making love to gorgeous, handsome men in beautiful parts of the world such as Bali, Hawaii Islands. Teenage Alex rushes out of his cabin in anger to go kayaking in the loch. Waves tear against the kayak, this an almost suicidal trip. Violent weather, violent loch.
Comes the story of a little brat girl, Lola, who throws stones at another girl from a different family. There is a family of Eastern Europeans who party, wild parties,sing and dance all night, loud, loud, loud, keeping babies, small children, and old folks awake. The vacationers are angry. Lola tells the other little girl to go back to where she is from, echoing what her father has said many times.
Characters are tired, fussing at each other, too much togetherness. Teenage Becky has a boyfriend, not really, who lives in a tent. Vacationers wonder about that man. Gavin tells her about Iraq, he did have an interesting life, not a boring one like hers. Becky is a typical teen, angry at life, but makes funny comments, funny kid. Izzy is a five year old with a great imagination and a fear of the dark. The book ends seen through the eyes of a child. Beautiful works and descriptions of nature. Great book, good writing, but chilly.
This is the first book I have read by Sarah Moss. I had never heard of her until she was introduced on PBS. This book made a big impression on me.
The wife is a runner, but what exactly is she looking to run away from? Her marriage? Her life? Judgement?
She looks at her marriage as an obligation and feels the world is constantly judging. Running she thinks is a refuge from it all.
“….must have been two weeks, three – four? – and even when she doesn’t feel like it, it seems to be good for them, like oiling your bike chain, doesn’t have to be fun but it stops things falling apart.”
A newly engaged couple in their prime, already questioning the capatability of their relationship.
Their plot centers around moving to a recluse island to raise children, yet their inability to get through a single day in their holiday cabin makes me seriously doubt even the idea of these two making it down the aisle, let alone on an island.
One of woman’s thoughts “I have a book I’d rather be reading” during intercourse, was a favorite line of mine, and well, relatable.
The weather is not the only foreshadowing of the doom of this relationship. But hey, they “love” each other. At least that’s what the woman is banking on.
A currently suicidal teenage girl spends her day reminiscing on past suicide attempts and all the reasons the next one could fail. The son very much just wants to run away and leave it all behind. He emits an angst, much more so than the normal teen boy – though has a maturity and intellect that produces one of my favorite quotes.
“It’s pretty weird when you think about it, all these middle-class white people coming here to have less privacy, comfort and convenience than they do at home, how’s that a holiday?”
An elderly man and his wife. Once a prominent doctor who purchased the cabin as a holiday compound with friends, soon finds himself the only original owner left.
His elderly wife’s train of thought alludes to dementia though she believes she is successfully hiding it from her husband. His thoughts reflect that she is not.
Their thoughts linger to their own children and memories as they watch the lives unfold of the other vacationers throughout the day.
A young family with two small children struggling to make it through a first holiday. The mother, a prior-career woman, now stay at home mom who’s in that rough stage of life. Overwhelmed and constantly questioning her self-identity. Who she was vs. who she is now and who she hopes to be in the future.
She’s very cognizant that the struggle of now, will be something she longs for someday.
“They won’t always love her this much, she thinks, holding her son, no one else, not even her children’s future selves, will ever be so pleased to see her coming as they are today.”
A father who takes his family on holiday yet spends the days working on his laptop at the pub.
A drowning mother who fluctuates between horrifying anxious worrying, crying and sleeping all day.
A daughter who is cruel and heavily influenced by her parents and a young boy who is left to observe it all.
It is he whose eyes the Author chooses to let the final scenes of the book play out through. And the words are just as chaotic as you would expect from a child’s mind, yet somehow is able to capture all the details an adult would pass over.
A Ukrainian Mother and daughter, constantly mis-raced by the other vacationers as “Romanian” due to their accent and last name.
The central tragedy that culminates the book is focused around these two. I don’t think its coincidence, that while each family’s focus somehow drifts to these outsiders, when tragedy occurs, they are also the first to be forgotten.
And then I dreamed about the book, or something that reminded me of these words, which is about as much praise as I can give to art. I dreamed about Noah's ark, certainly a new one for me (!), where Noah places a man and a woman in a coffin until the rain stops. And then I thought about all of the semaphores and parallelisms in Summerwater, including the pairs of people and the choice Moss makes to allow some consciousness and some only as seen by the temporary narrators. The omniscient narrator, however - be that entity Nature, Time, Universe, the author herself- oversees and sees over this tiny theater, and without judgment but not without some compassion.
I also might mention that I couldn't breathe for the freaking hilarious thoughts and behaviors of some of the characters. And even Don Draper gets a cameo!
Summerwater is an elegy and I mean this to my bones, one novel that has affected me like few others in recent years. The rain, the prey, the drop on a leaf- lingering but ready to fall.
Top reviews from other countries
'Summerwater' is essentially a collection of stream-of-consciousness narratives from a group of holiday-makers stuck due to rain in a chalet park in the Scottish Highlands. Among them are Justine, a frustrated exercise-crazy mother, and her somewhat bigoted husband Steve; pensioner David and his wife Mary who has early Alzheimer's; stroppy teenager Becky; Alex, a bolder adolescent who braves the wild weather to go canoeing; Lola, a cruel child who torments a little Ukrainian girl; exhausted mother-of-two Claire and her vulnerable daughter Izzy and Lola's gentler brother Jack. In between each stream-of-consciousness (all approximately ten pages) monologue, are wonderful, lyrical meditations on nature and descriptions of the wildlife round the holiday park. The action takes place in a single day, building up to a dramatic climax in the final chapter.
The nature-writing is wonderful, like a superb prose-poem (has Moss written poetry too, I wonder?). The narrative voices are on the whole very convincing and highly individual. The story, though reasonably low-key, is believable and engaging, and Moss manages to make one interested in all her characters, even the more unsympathetic ones like Becky, Steve and Lola. There's some interesting reflections on immigration, on how society has changed over the years and on climate change. I was really impressed with how Moss captures the perspective of children - though I'd have loved a chapter told from the Ukrainian girl's point of view. And I thought Moss's evocation of the holiday park itself was superb. So - lots to recommend and it's definitely a book I'll re-read.
And yet... there was something about it that appealed slightly less to me that Moss's earlier work. Maybe it was the bleakness of the story (I always prefer novels that have some happy episodes - or at least offer some sort of hope). Maybe (I do read the 'Guardian' most days after all) I'm a bit exhausted by doom-laden tales that don't offer any sort of realistic solution to how we can alleviate the trouble we're in. Maybe it was the fact that none of the characters appealed as much or felt as vivid as the students in 'Cold Earth', the marvellously sarcastic Anna in 'Night Waking' or Adam the gentle father-narrator in 'The Tidal Zone'. Maybe it was the style - no speech marks, a tendency to very long sentences and paragraphs, a rather 'meandering' narrative clearly meant (as in Virginia Woolf) to capture the fluidity of our thoughts. Anyway, whatever it was, I found myself nostalgic for the more traditional narrative and the very distinctive voice of Moss's earlier novels. Despite the often beautiful prose, 'Summerwater' felt less individual than the other Moss books I've read (there are so many writers now, from Ali Smith to Bernardine Evaristo, dispensing with punctuation, relying on stream-of-consciousness narrative and focussing on bleak or despairing subject matter). I had something of the same problem with 'Ghost Wall' so wonder whether Moss is actually a stronger writer in the longer format novel rather than the novella? I hope she goes back to bigger books soon.
Nevertheless, despite these criticisms (which may be partly due to my personal love for 19th-century realist novels and their contemporary equivalents and my mixed feelings about modernism) a book by Sarah Moss is always a delight, and the strengths of 'Summerwater' far outweigh the weaknesses. Please keep writing Ms Moss - you are much needed!
And in the background are lives we don't explore so closely - those of the wildlife clustering invisibly around the clearing; the lone male camper who pitches his tent in the woods, and the group of Rumanians, Bulgarians or Ukrainians (nobody's quite sure) who seem to be throwing a party.
Each chapter is written from the point of view of one single visitor. Some need to escape into the wilderness - the woman desperate to indulge her running addiction, the boy who almost drowns in a kayak - while some are looking for a way to hang onto connection, like the young couple chasing the mirage of sexual compatibility, the elderly doctor's wife fending off dementia and the watchfully worried gaze of her husband. Each narrative is written in close third-person - a tricky tone to pull off, but Sarah Moss does it brilliantly, giving us an intimate insight into the workings of each mind without the self-consciousness that can accompany straight first person narratives.
As the linked narratives build towards a single common climax, we also become increasingly conscious of the spirit of place which informs this book and weaves its way into each human story, as vivid a setting as Hardy's Egdon Heath or the Bronte's Yorkshire moors. A great read.
I would probably have chosen this book for myself if it had been on a 99p offer but feel I was robbed paying the amount that I did.
thought the atmospherics were excellent and the style was different and interesting but, ultimately, having built up to big climax, it all ended with a bit of a disappointing whimper. also just couldn't see the message that she was trying to get across in the book (if any).
but, it did almost succeed and was certainly worth a read even if very gloomy what with all the rain......