The Stranding by Kate Sawyer

Thank you to Coronet Books for a proof copy of this stunning debut novel to read and review. The book was published last week in the UK.




Ruth lives in the heart of the city. Working, drinking, falling in love: the rhythm of her vivid and complicated life is set against a background hum of darkening news reports from which she deliberately turns away.

When a new romance becomes claustrophobic, Ruth chooses to leave behind the failing relationship, but also her beloved friends and family, and travels to the other side of the world in pursuit of her dream life working with whales in New Zealand.

But when Ruth arrives, the news cycle she has been ignoring for so long is now the new reality. Far from home and with no real hope of survival, she finds herself climbing into the mouth of a beached whale alongside a stranger. When she emerges, it is to a landscape that bears no relation to the world they knew before.

When all has been razed to the ground, what does it mean to build a life? 

The Stranding is a story about the hope that can remain even when the world is changed beyond recognition.

My thoughts:

This is a stunning debut novel that I didn’t want to put down. The book begins with Ruth trying to save the life of a beached whale in New Zealand, thousands of miles from her home in London. As the story unfolds we find out more about why she ended up in New Zealand just as the world we know changed forever.

We are never expressly told what has happened to the world, but are given hints about Kate having avoided the news and events starting in Europe, and how hiding inside the whale with Nik saved their lives.

We hear how Nik and Kate learn to be self sufficient for food, what they miss from before the world changed and how their relationship evolves. Kate also shares how her life changed in her last year in London and why she made the decision to visit New Zealand, inspired by the picture of the whale in her childhood bedroom.

As a child growing up in Sheffield during the 1980’s, the threat of nuclear war was one that did give me sleepless nights, not helped by a film being made about what would happen to our city (Threads). This book is a timely reminder at how fragile peace can be and why we need thoughtful world leaders, not impatient ones.

A fascinating and thought provoking read by a debut author I’m looking forward to reading more from. Did Kate’s desire to help the whale lead to her being saved by the animal she couldn’t save?

Author Bio:

Kate was born in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK where she grew up in the countryside as the eldest of four siblings, after briefly living with her parents in Qatar and the Netherlands.

She has worked as an actor and producer on everything from film and theatre to festivals and weddings. She has previously written for theatre and short-film before turning her hand to fiction.

Having lived in South London for the best part of two decades, with brief stints in Australia and the USA, she recently returned to East Anglia to have her first child as a solo mother by choice.


By Karen K is reading

An avid reader from the age of 4. Love escaping into a good novel after a busy day working with students. Mum. Adopter of dogs.

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