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No Signposts in the Sea

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  175 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Edmund Carr is at sea in more ways than one. An eminent journalist and self-made man, he has recently discovered that he has only a short time to live. Leaving his job on a Fleet Street paper, he takes a passage on a cruise ship where he knows that Laura, a beautiful and intelligent widow whom he secretly admires, will be a fellow passenger. Exhilarated by the distant vist ...more
Paperback, 155 pages
Published December 31st 1985 by Virago (first published January 1st 1961)
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Jul 05, 2013 Mariel rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: no tombstones in the sea
Recommended to Mariel by: Virginia Woolf
She little knows what it means to 'the other Edmund' to let himself go and talk to her. The other Edmund has never had such a friend.

I couldn't find again the passage I really wanted. It really said what it means to me to have this and write what I think about, what matters to me, here on goodreads (and in the imaginary in the head conversations). The little magic space of books and dream it more than one place. It might matter to someone else to know about it too. If you never imagined that oth
Nov 08, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing
I'm still quite fond of Vita. I'm still not quite at home with her. I still can't explain just why that is!

And, once again, her book was not at all what I expected! I knew it was about a terminally ill man who chooses to spend his final months on a sea voyage with the woman he (secretly) loves. Reading this, I envisioned frothy, blue prose, a pale, expansive wistfulness. A touch of restlessness. A touch of sensuality. A touch of aristocracy. And, in a way, it is those things. But this is a far m
Jul 07, 2008 Siria rated it it was ok
A slight little thing, more novella than novel, No signposts in the sea strives very hard to achieve memorability, but just about reaches mediocrity. There are flashes of beauty in the prose, but they don't make up for the deficiencies of characterisation and plot.
Maria Ch
Dec 20, 2015 Maria Ch rated it really liked it

Edmund is a journalist who finds out that he has a short time to live due to a terminal disease and decides to spend his remaining time on a journey at sea with a woman he likes Laura. The narrative is in fact his narrative, his stream of thought in regards to the object of his affection. Initially the writing is more general, varying between observations and convictions, going as fas as aphorisms on life as the author ponders on different issues like life, love, happiness. Edmund is a self proc
Feb 17, 2012 Kathrine rated it it was amazing
The novel is a meditation on life, love, what motivates human beings and contains real insight into the ideas of nature vs progress, the limitations of materialism etc - all very relevant to today, amazingly so.
Very philosophical, beautifully written and a joy to read. I think this is the best Vita Sackville-West have written.
Aug 23, 2014 Mary rated it it was amazing
What a lovely novella.
A re-read for me!
Edmund Carr, when he learns he hasn't long to live takes a passage on board a ship where he knows that Laura, a beautiful and intelligent widow whom he secretly admires is a fellow passenger.
I loved it even if it did have a sad ending!
Jul 31, 2016 Leah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i wanted to draw out the reading of this book as long as i could; the beauty of Sackville-West's prose drew me in and made me want to stay with it for as long as i could.
Jan 20, 2015 Chrystal rated it did not like it
Who wants to read a boring book about a jealous man mooning about on a cruise ship for three weeks? So dumb.
Apr 22, 2014 Tiah added it
- Is it any more extraordinary than the things that people will say to one in railway carriages? That their husbands beat them, for instance, or that their son is in prison for forging a cheque. -

- She certainly has the gift of involuntarily drawing people out. I taxed her with fraudulence, for although, as she says, she is interested, it is in a very detached way. -

- The average reader skims; he does not pause to observe what you, Laura, rightly called the pattern. He does not weigh, as the a
Aug 28, 2008 Debra rated it liked it
I started reading this book because the topic intrigued me - a foreign policy columnist from England, recently diagnosed with some sort of fatal condition that could kill him at any time, traveling on a cruise ship in order to get closer to the object of his affections. The main character was kind of cliched, I thought, and the woman he's obsessed with was also very one-dimensional. But the author's observations about human interaction were on target; I liked when she went off on tangents more t ...more
Feb 25, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
on her craft"The most egotistic of occupations,and the most gratifying while it lasts... and to live in the perusasion that one is doing something worthwhile.Because of course one must hold on to that conviction, or one wouldn't go on. Luckly a writers powers of self delusion are limitless, and oh the smugness of feeling that one has done a good day's work!' p59 There is more that she has to say-- on love ,jealousy, and ocean travelwhich should make this a must read for those of us of a certain ...more
May 05, 2010 Alaina rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I couldn't shake the feeling throughout reading this book that the author was caught up in aging self-absorption as she wrote. It reinforces a suspicion I have that post-middle age sometimes becomes a sort of second adolescence.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed discussion of the end of life. I sympathized with Edmund, even though he behaved foolishly throughout the story, which is perhaps testament to the good qualities of the author. Surely Virginia loved her for a good reason.
Liz Polding
Jun 07, 2015 Liz Polding rated it really liked it
A love reciprocated, but never expressed, this is a sad story of two people for whom it is all too late. The story has a gentle resonance and somehow manages to be strong enough to hold up the weight of the many social theories that the author puts into her characters' mouths. Do real people talk like that? Not really, but it scarcely matters. The ideas are interesting, the book is strong enough to take them. Cerebral and rather touching.
Lauren Strickland
Aug 27, 2015 Lauren Strickland rated it liked it
Shelves: owned-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 29, 2016 Natalie rated it it was amazing
I grant freely that this is not great literature, but I was unexpectedly moved by it, and I think it's one of those stories that I'll carry with me.
Sophie Wainwright
May 08, 2013 Sophie Wainwright rated it really liked it
I loved the slow and sure pace of this book and it's elegant structure. The written style and composition suited the simplicity of the story and the fact that from the start, you know how it will end. Reading about the final days of Edmund's life, there is a sense of inevitablity and a continual inherent sadness which is very moving.
Christopher Sanderson
Jul 05, 2015 Christopher Sanderson rated it really liked it
It took a little while for me to get going, i don't know why, maybe because i have never been on a cruise. But i did get going, for I do share all the doubts the fears, the love, the jealousy, the self introspection which flows throughout this book. It is true some books you don't want to end, this was one of those books.
Mar 17, 2012 Jean rated it liked it
This is a lovely small novel. Although I didn't really warm up to the main character, Edmund Carr, I loved the uncredited quotes sprinkled throughout the novel and the descriptions of places visited. This would be a wonderful book for those who cruise to take along to read out loud to one's partner.
Sep 25, 2015 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
Beautifully written but the ending was a foregone conclusion . But I would have loved to have had the opportunity to travel the seas in a tramp steamer like these two did for months on end, well maybe weeks on end..
Apr 09, 2015 Kay rated it really liked it
I picked this up by accident but found it a very enjoyable read and a fascinating view of relationships in the light of "Portrait of a Marriage".
Apr 06, 2015 Victoria rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
maybe one of her best; so spare and nuanced; not an ounce of flab here--just a perfectly constructed arc that ends in a sheer cliff face. Perfect.
Jun 28, 2014 Myrthel rated it liked it
Although the story did not reach the same level as other novels I read by her I do love her clear open and somehow spacious way of writing.
David Vanness
May 10, 2013 David Vanness rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-have
My edition is 144 page hardback. I found this very enjoyable. Now I'm looking forward to some of her other works. Any suggestions ?
Apr 12, 2014 Rasma rated it liked it
Charming moments, reminiscent of Daddy Longlegs, a rather cliche ending but all endings are, ahem, in the end.
Sep 16, 2015 Ellen rated it it was ok
If I had met Edmund Carr on a cruise, I would have abandoned ship at first port of call.
Jul 16, 2015 Deb added it
I had forgotten that I had read this.
Jul 12, 2013 Kimberly rated it it was ok
Short. Not very sweet.
Mary marked it as to-read
Aug 23, 2016
Lorna rated it liked it
Aug 21, 2016
Eliza rated it it was amazing
Aug 19, 2016
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Vita Sackville-West was a prolific author, poet and memoirist in early 20th-Century Britain who is known not only for her writing, but for her not-so-private, private life. While married to the diplomat Harold Nicolson, she conducted a series of scandalous amorous liaisons with many women, including the brilliant Virginia Woolf. They had an open marriage. Both Sackville-West and her husband had sa ...more
More about Vita Sackville-West...

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