Summerwater by Sarah Moss

Summerwater is a short novel exploring the people at a Scottish cabin park on a single day, with simmering tensions amidst the wet weather. There’s various families and children, cooped up indoors; an old couple thinking about the past; a young couple unaware of how each other are feeling; and, as noticed by everyone else, a woman and her daughter who some of the others don’t think fits in. As the narrative moves between the perspective of different people and the day goes on, the question is, what will happen by nighttime?

This is an easily immersive novel, that moves quickly between each character, only giving you each person’s perspective once. It paints a picture of the similarities and differences between people’s mindsets and the way that they all watch each other out of their patio doors, like nosy neighbours but temporary. There’s sharp moments of exposure about modern Britain, from xenophobia to environmental concerns, and a sense of privilege amongst the less-than-ideal holidays the characters are having.

Summerwater is a kind of study of the contemporary moment from within a Scottish holiday park, showing lingering judgement and prejudice under the surface. Similarly to Moss’ previous novel Ghost Wall, it takes a group of people outside of their usual setting, with a distinct nature backdrop, and observes what happens when they come together.