*First I want to thank the author, Julia Sutton, for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.*
A Sea of Straw is not just a love story, it is about a man, Ze, who has to deal with a corrupt and horrible regime and a woman, Jody, who must find a way out of an unhappy marriage with a young child to find happiness. These two people meet in Lisbon by chance. What follows in not just a novel packed with romance, but a book that deals with individual heartache, living under the control of a corrupt government, and making difficult decisions that could have repercussions.
Before I get into the things I adore about this books, I would like to point out that you need to give this book about 50-60 pages before you decide to keep reading or not. I had a little bit of difficulty getting into it at first, but when I was able to get past those 50-60 pages I was invested.
A Sea of Straw had a historical background that I am not familiar with myself. This books takes place in Portugal during a period of time it was ruled by a fascist government. If you want a little more detail you can visit these links, Carnation Revolution and European Integration and Carnation Revolution. I do not want to give possible spoilers/information if someone wants to read this book without knowing background of this political time period and how it affected the Portuguese people . I have to say this is the first book in sometime that led me to research a topic on my own, for me this is a huge positive because it shows me how involved I was in the story that I needed to know more.
Another thing I enjoyed about this novel was the fact it showed not only the political tension of what Ze was going through, but it also showed what Jody was going through. Even though it was the 1960s when Jody and Ze met, Jody was still at the mercy of her husband even with the progress made for woman’s rights. This books does not shy away from talking about struggle and hardship, but in doing so exposes the reader to what feels like authentic experience.
I have to say that the story Sutton wrote is so believable and raw that you have no choice but be rooting for Ze and Jody. You want them to have the love and life they deserve to have.
Will a man walk two thousand kilometres for a woman? In 1967, Ze will. Salazar’s Portugal has become a prison for him.
1966: When Jody, young mother and designer from Manchester, arrives on the Lisbon coast, she brings the lure of ‘Swinging London’ to Portuguese painter Ze ‘s existing dreams of freedom. A nascent love is interrupted when, back in England, husband Michael forces her to choose between their 2-year-old daughter Anna and Ze . And Ze, at home in Lisbon and grounded by the state’s secret police, can only wait.
For both Jody and Ze, love is revolution. And personal and political threads weave their story, a period piece set amid the then socially conservative North of England, the light and rugged landscapes of modern Portugal, and the darkness of the dying years of Europe’s longest-running dictatorship. A Sea of Straw, with its pervading atmosphere of saudades, is a quest for love in revolutionary times.
Overall, I have to give this book 4 stars. It not only intrigued me enough to do my own research, but this novel is written so well. You feel for the characters as there are small victories and mourn and became angry when things are not working out for them. All I have to say is give a try and read it! I highly doubt you will be disappointed.
Publisher: Cheyne Walk
Publication Date:October 25th 2016
List Price: $12.20 (Amazon.com)