In the Sweep of the Bay by Cath Barton
This is a little gem of a book that perfectly captures the small and important moments in everyday lives. Fleeting emotions and lost opportunities, happy coincidences and sudden realisations, words unsaid and thoughts suppressed, a lifetime of quiet love, duty, and the essential spiritual isolation of each individual among many.
These themes are explored through the story of Ted and Rene, married in the momentary optimism of the post-war fifties, staying together in their traditional roles of wage-earner and home-maker through the rest of the century. Cath Barton has an exquisite eye for detail and a deft touch with words.
The layers of the story unpeel like an onion, each separate and perfect in its place and time, full of translucent beauty if only you can look at it the right way.
In the Sweep of the Bay is a touching and poignant novella, elegantly written in evocative language. In some ways the story is Austen-esque, not in the dry humour, but in the intelligent understanding of daily human relationships.
If you like books by Elizabeth Strout, Sally Rooney, and Ann Patchett, you will enjoy this flawless novella.