The Narrowboat Summer: Book summary and reviews of The Narrowboat Summer by Anne Youngson

The Narrowboat Summer

by Anne Youngson

The Narrowboat Summer by Anne Youngson X
The Narrowboat Summer by Anne Youngson
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  • Publishes in USA 
    Jan 26, 2021
    336 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

From the author of Meet Me at the Museum, a charming novel of second chances, about three women, one dog, and the narrowboat that brings them together.

Eve expected Sally to come festooned with suitcases and overnight bags packed with everything she owned, but she was wrong. She arrived on foot, with a rucksack and a carrier bag. "I just walked away," she said, climbing on to the boat. Eve knew what she meant.

Meet Eve, who has left her thirty-year career to become a Free Spirit; Sally, who has waved goodbye to her indifferent husband and two grown-up children; and Anastasia, a defiantly independent narrowboat-dweller, who is suddenly landlocked and vulnerable.

Before they quite know what they've done, Sally and Eve agree to drive Anastasia's narrowboat on a journey through the canals of England, as she awaits a life-saving operation. As they glide gently – and not so gently – through the countryside, the eccentricities and challenges of narrowboat life draw them inexorably together, and a tender and unforgettable story unfolds. At summer's end, all three women must decide whether to return to the lives they left behind, or forge a new path forward.

Candid, hilarious, and uplifting, Anne Youngson's The Narrowboat Summer is a celebration of the power of friendship and new experiences to change one's life, at any age.

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Welcome to the Reading Group Guide for The Narrowboat Summer. Please note: In order to provide reading groups with the most informed and thought-provoking questions possible, it is necessary to reveal important aspects of the plot of this novel—as well as the ending. If you have not finished reading The Narrowboat Summer, we respectfully suggest that you may want to wait before reviewing this guide.

  1. Discuss Eve's description of life on the Number One: "Eve concentrated on the experience of travelling. The rhythm of movement along a canal, the tramp of feet on the towpath like a song without notes. This was not about the destination; the point was the travelling, at a speed that allowed change to occur at the rate of one hundred ...
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Media Reviews

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This information about The Narrowboat Summer shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Reader Reviews

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Elizabeth V. (Bellbrook, OH)

A Coming of Age Story for Older Adults
Life is full of changes and transitions but most coming of age stories focus on the transition for youth to adulthood. It was refreshing to read a story that focused on older adults "coming of age" and realizing their full potential. I also enjoyed that the author allowed both Sally and Eve to find happiness without the necessity of a romantic pairing. That struck me as more authentic than if one or both of them found a "happily ever after" romantic partner. Many of us are happily single older adults and it was nice to have the book reflect that.

The pacing of the book is appropriately slow and in that, I felt it reflected the movement of the narrowboat. I really enjoyed reading about the mechanics of maneuvering a boat through the locks and the descriptions of taking the boat through tunnels was so vivid I could almost feel the claustrophobia.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I will happily add Anne Youngson to my "must read" author list.

Pamela D. (Tomball, TX)

A summer afloat
Three women meet on a towpath along a canal near London, strangers brought together by a howling dog in a narrowboat, all three at crossroads in their life. Anastacia, the boat owner, teaches Eve and Sally how to operate the narrowboat and trusts them to deliver it to the repair facility in Chester, over 200 miles north, a trip that would take more than six weeks. Six weeks that would change their lives.

The story reads like a narrowboat trip – slow, meandering, graceful & enriching. Along the way, Eve & Sally meet a variety of people, some of whom will become dear friends and some who will remain just people they met.

A perfect book club read – so many episodes ripe for discussion and consideration. This is a book I will reread next summer and dream of my own narrowboat trip.

Marci G. (Sicklerville, NJ)

Joy to Read
One of the joys of reading is discovering an interest about a subject you know nothing about. Life on a narrow boat on English Canals? Oh yes! This book led me to discover an unknown world of traveling on English Canals. Not only is the scene of this story intriguing but each character is rich in personality with their individual quirks, each on their own journeys through life. I appreciated each character and what they brought to the story. Anastasia in all her craggy glory the impetus for the journey. Sally and Eve so different yet complimenting each other to make life work. The peripheral characters of Trompette, Arthur, Jacob, Owen, Billy each adding a new dimension. The ending! I am clutching my e-reader to my chest! I selected this book to read since I enjoyed Ms.Youngson's "Meet Me at The Museum." I am delighted with The Narrowboat Summer!

Terri O. (Chapel Hill, NC)

The Narrowboat Summer
The Narrowboat Summer by Anne Youngson is a gentle, peaceful exploration of the possibilities of momentous change in lives that seem completely settled. The three main characters, two middle aged (Sally and Eve) and one elderly (Anastasia), find their lives turned upside down by various circumstances (a failed marriage, job loss, and a medical crisis). A chance encounter brings these three strangers together, and before they know it, Sally and Eve have agreed to drive Anastasia's narrowboat hundreds of miles to a boatyard in Chester so that Anastasia can remain in the London area for medical treatment. Despite having no experience with narrowboats or canals, Sally and Eve discover that canal life suits them. The slow pace of the journey allows them to reflect on their lives—where they've been and, more importantly, where they want to go from there. The main characters are well developed, and the friendships that form during the journey are deep and abiding. I especially appreciated the largely drama-free interactions between Sally and Eve as they thoughtfully navigated their new friendship—it was a refreshing change from the stereotypical rivalry-type female relationships that are often depicted in novels. But my favorite character in the book is the canals themselves—the lyrical descriptions of canal life made me long for my own narrowboat summer. This novel would appeal to those who enjoy books by Helen Simonson, Phaedra Patrick, Rachel Joyce, and Fredrik Backman, as well as anyone who yearns to make a change in their seemingly settled lives.

Carol N. (Indian Springs Village, AL)

Narrowboat Summer
I fell in love with this book the more I read. I have something in common with two of the women - I am older and I was disenchanted with my job and recently retired. I also fell in love with the English countryside as it was described in the book. It takes place mostly on the canals of England and made me want to take a boat trip of my own.

The story was interesting and I loved seeing the women grow and develop as they traveled. The inclusion of the younger couple was interesting as well although I do not want to hear more of their story.

I think this book will be excellent for book clubs with enough variety of characters for everyone to find a favorite. It was a quick read for me but that may have been because I was so fond of everyone and wanted to see how things ended.

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.

...8 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Anne Youngson Author Biography

Photo: Lisa Hill

Anne Youngson is retired and lives in Oxfordshire. She has two children and three grandchildren to date. Meet Me at the Museum is her first novel and is being published around the world.

Author Interview

Other books by Anne Youngson at BookBrowse
  • Meet Me at the Museum jacket
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