Ted Marshall meets Rene in the dance halls of Morecambe and they marry during the frail optimism of the 1950s. They adopt the roles expected of man and wife at the time: he the breadwinner at the family ceramics firm, and she the loyal housewife, but as the years go by, they both find themselves wishing for more…
After Ted survives a heart attack, both see it as a new beginning… but can a faded love like theirs ever be rekindled?
Cath Barton lives in Abergavenny. She won the New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella in 2017 for The Plankton Collector, which was published in September 2018 by New Welsh Review under their Rarebyte imprint. She also writes short stories and flash fiction and, with her critical writing, is a regular contributor to Wales Arts Review. In the Sweep of the Bay is her second novella.
For a book that just has over 100 pages, this was pure quality! It's a gentle, quietly written book with a devastating exploration into a marriage. How time spent with the one you love often becomes a duty, just going through the motions, settling into a routine and not wanting to rock the boat.
I loved how this was full of those little observations that we often take for granted and miss, you become that fly on the wall as you look back at Ted and Rene as their life passes them by. The highs and the many lows. The trials and tribulations that face us all and how we should take time to treasure the good moments instead of dwelling on the bad!
Watching this couple over the years often left me with an overwhelming sadness! Their union seemed to become a marriage of resentment and bitterness and I found the tears falling down my face at certain points as you just felt so sad for them both and what their lives had become. Even more so when their daughter was going through their possessions and realising just how little she knew about her parents and that brings home that we often don't realise how much we don't know about those closest to us.
Being set from the 50's onwards really showed the attitudes of those towards marriage back then. The fact that the woman was just expected to give up her life for her husband and future children, despite the life she was missing out on ... she just kept quiet and let the bitterness build up inside her. You just wanted her to scream or shout - just to react and let her feelings out!
This is an exquisite little novella - small in stature, but huge in style and impact!!