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The Narrowboat Summer

by Anne Youngson

The Narrowboat Summer by Anne Youngson X
The Narrowboat Summer by Anne Youngson
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2021
    336 pages
    Genre: Novels

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There are currently 16 member reviews
for The Narrowboat Summer
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  • Nan K. (Cleveland, OH)
    Escape to a Different Life
    Anne Youngson's three women meet by an unlikely (but believable) coincidence exactly when they need a change in their lives, and new people to help them carry it out. This Aga Saga working out of domestic problems also transports the characters - and the reader - to the quirky world of the English canal, awash in history and traditions. A pleasant few hours of escape to a world where the footing feels more certain.
  • Dorinne D. (Wickenburg, AZ)
    Life on a Narrowboat
    When two women at loose ends in their lives meet on the street one day, this story begins. Sally has left her husband and her home to seek some fulfillment in her life; Eve has lost her high-level job and is wondering how she will cope. They are both walking along when they encounter a gruff old woman with a problem – Anastasia. Anastasia lives on a narrowboat and travels the canals of England, but has been advised that she must have major surgery and is thus not going to be able to continue her lifestyle on the canals. Taking two rank amateurs under her wing to show them how to operate her narrowboat through the locks on the canals is a bit of a challenge. But Eve and Sally take to life on the narrowboat well and find they really love the drastic change in their lifestyles. I found this to be a very enjoyable, different sort of story, full of interesting characters.
  • Monica P. (Cleves, OH)
    A Pleasant Read
    I enjoyed reading The Narrowboat Summer. I learned a lot about canals and narrow boats which were two things I didn't know I would be interested in. I can't say that I necessarily liked Anastasia, but Sally and Eve had enough depth to keep me wanting to hear more about their lives. This was the perfect book to take my mind out of our current world and if the author writes a sequel, I would happy to read more about all the characters in this book.
  • Bettie T. (Johns Island, SC)
    Navigating the forks in the stream
    I knew nothing about narrowboats before I started reading The Narrowboat Summer by Anne Youngson. I never knew it was an option for an English holiday, much less a way of life for the denizens who live on them full- or part-time. And there are tunnels and bridges and locks (!) to navigate with at least a modicum of skill, though apparently one can pick up the necessary skills relatively quickly.

    I was enchanted with the book, not just because of the pastoral setting (not always!), but also because of the strong development of main characters and some assorted family members and friends. For the three main characters, two middle-aged women and one who is elderly, the narrowboat journey serves as a subtle metaphor for a re-evaluation of their lives, a "time-out" for them to make some decisions for which fork in the stream they will take. I think of this book as a bit of a "coming-of-age" novel, though in this case our heroines aren't bridging to adulthood but to a new chapter in their lives.
  • Elizabeth D. (Apple Valley, MN)
    Didn't Quite Live Up to My Expectations
    I was thrilled to get an ARC of The Narrowboat Summer! Thank you so much to Book Browse, Net Galley, and Macmillan for the opportunity to read it early. Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson is one of my favorite books, so I've been anxiously awaiting a new book from Ms. Youngson. I was especially excited when reading the description of the book - what better way to escape this terrible year of 2020 than by drifting along the canals of the English countryside getting to know three older female characters?

    Unfortunately I didn't love this book as much as I hoped I would. The problem is likely mainly due to my own expectations, which isn't fair to the author. I finished the book about a week ago and have been trying to puzzle out why it didn't click for me, before I wrote my review. I think the first reason is because I was expecting a charming, idyllic escape. While Ms. Youngson does an excellent job of pacing the novel to reflect the slow drift of a Narrowboat making its way through the canals, she also does a good job of reflecting the reality of such a journey, including some of the grittier landscapes and characters, the sometimes boring stretches of time, and the often repetitive tasks (I probably don't need to ever read about going through locks again, ever).

    The other thing that didn't click for me was the character of Anastasia. I'm not a fan of the "crotchety-yet-wise old person" trope generally, and I felt like the great affection the two main characters had for Anastasia wasn't well-founded enough to be believable.

    I did enjoy getting to know the two main characters and taking a virtual trip during these Covid times. As I mentioned earlier, I think the pacing fit the story well, and I think Ms. Youngson is talented at capturing the feeling of a journey, whether by boat, train, or road trip - that sense of being outside of time, letting the journey dictate the rhythm of your days, until the journey is almost at an end and you realize there's so much else you could have noticed or done as you need to start adhering to a schedule again.

    Even though I didn't enjoy this as much as I expected or as much as Meet Me at the Museum, I still hope Ms. Youngson has already started her next book. I'll be right there in line to buy it.
  • Jane H. (Prospect, KY)
    The Narrowboat Summer
    This was a pleasant read, but not one needing deep thought or commitment. The whole concept of two women meeting as strangers and agreeing to take on a boat trip when neither were familiar with boats was somewhat of a stretch. To stretch the idea even further, they took on the care of the elderly, somewhat crotchety boat owner. All were things you wish you would do if you were in a similar position, but realistically know it wouldn't be that easy. I liken it to the premise of EAT, PRAY, LOVE. This book might interest some book clubs as the relationships between the characters could be examined for discussion, but overall there's not a lot of depth to this book.
  • Sarah M. (Kirksville, MO)
    A slow, gentle read
    Fans of Meet Me at the Museum, Youngson's first novel, will not find the same epistolary structure or poignant philosophical musings in this second outing. Narrowboat Summer has its own pleasures, though, as we witness two very ordinary middle age women, Eve and Sally, step out of their humdrum lives and agree on the spur of the moment to pilot a narrow boat through the canals of England while the boat's owner seeks medical treatment. How much a reader enjoys Narrowboat Summer will depend on how closely they identify with Eve and Sally.
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