Watershed - Susan Day

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'A beautifully written, compelling read which had me hooked until the final, heartbreaking line.'

It’s 2020 and the whole country is in lockdown due to the dreadful virus COVID-19, but for Pamela Dearly it makes little difference to her way of life. More than a decade after the death of her sister she is still living as a resentful recluse, spending her days going over the past.

 

Pam knows floods. The breaching of the dam that devastated Sheffield in 1864, the east coast flood of 1953 that blighted her own family, and the flood of 2007 that ruined many homes and businesses have all played their part in her life and work.

 

‘Watershed’ is about loneliness and families, and unlooked for deaths. It speaks of how events can change the course of lives, and how, in the end, the smallest of human interactions can make a difference.

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As deaths mount during the coronavirus pandemic a retired history teacher reflects on the much greater personal impact of one death 12 years before.  In a confiding and conversational tone she addresses the guilt and agony of bereavement and the family and professional obligations and kindnesses that help her to resume her life. The story is washed through with the characters’ encounters with historic floods and these give it structure, mystery and resonance. It’s an interesting read for all those who, until the pandemic, thought they ‘had the right to safety and plenty and freedom’.

 Janet Rees, Agglestone Rock Book Group

Sue skillfully conveys the many and complex manifestations of grief; how it affects people so differently, how pervasive and long-lasting its reach really is. Pam’s grief was especially well done - controlled, yet simmering, rooted deeply in the past - reflective of her character. There are no tidy endings here, no happy ever-afters  - just an acceptance that life does and must go on.

 Lucie Brownlee