- Book: Sunny Days and Sea Breezes
- Location: Isle of Wight
- Author: Carole Matthews
Jodie Jackson has had her heart broken by her husband, Chris, who seems to have been having an affair. She hightails it from London to her brother’s boat – the eponymous Sunny Days of the title – moored off Cowes, on the Isle of Wight. Marilyn, a local character who is larger than life has been charged with looking after her, to cook and clean and generally be an uplifting soul in Jodie’s gloomy world.
Jodie soon finds her feet as she explores the locale. She befriends Ida who runs the local café in Cockleshell Bay and George, who makes his meagre living by being a human statue (he is also a writer). However, of most interest is Ned, who happens to own the houseboat next door, the Sea Breezes of the title. Inevitably he adds hunk factor to the story and is everything that Jodie feels she is not – essentially a free spirit, a musician, a sculptor and a good egg. She feels that her life to date, her striving for whatever it was she and Chris were seeking in London, suddenly seems a little jaded. He introduces her to sandcastle building into the wee small hours, she accompanies him to a music festival where she lets her hair down and he encourages her to have a go at wood sculpting. Simply. What’s not to like about him and his hippyish lifestyle!
And of course he turns her head. But she is married.
She continues to nurse her broken heart and knows that she is drawn to her neighbour. Soon, after copious messages, husband Chris becomes more persistent in his desire to regroup and maybe her blissful time on the island is coming to an end.
If you have read any of Carole Matthews’ books before, you will know that she is the queen of ‘feel-good fiction’, the doyenne of the upbeat romantic narrative, her stories are always full of sunshine. However, that is not to say that she doesn’t tackle darker issues in life because she does!
In her Acknowledgements at the end of the book, the author talks about her stays on the Isle of Wight and how she has somewhat messed with the geography of the island. The houseboats she stayed on for research were actually moored in Bembridge harbour. Cockleshell Bay unfortunately doesn’t actually exist but is a mash-up of Bembridge, Steep Hill Cove and Seaview, with other areas thrown in for good measure. And as she closes she says: “My advice is to go to the Isle of Wight and check it out! Don’t forget your bucket and spade“.
Definitely a novel to read to get you in the mood for a visit to the Isle of Wight, and yes, don’t forget your bucket and spade!