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The Drowned Phoenician Sailor

4.79  ·  Rating details ·  29 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Fynn is resolutely unromantic, a bit of a loner, and sceptical about life before death, never mind after it. And yet since she was fifteen her dead sister has been visiting her on a regular basis. Fynn doesn’t believe in ghosts so is she crazy? Three years after starting psychotherapy with Paul, she arrives for a session and finds him lying dead on the couch. But this is j ...more
Kindle Edition, 262 pages
Published January 5th 2014 by Lesley Hayes
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Max Power
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reading
Intelligent and beguiling, I was drawn to turn each page by the wonderful craft of Lesley Hayes. My biggest problem is trying to review this lovely book without giving away too much. Undoubtedly different people will get different things from this story and certainly I get the impression that this may be intentional. From my perspective it is an exploration of the human condition in a very original fashion. At the heart of the story the main character Fynn (Fiona) is troubled by many issues from ...more
Sharon Brownlie
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The author is a psychotherapist and it clearly shows in The Drowned Phoenician Sailor. As I began reading I became intrigued with her writing and the story. It was with some trepidation that I read on. I say this because it was apparent to me that it would stir a lot emotions. I began to wonder if the story was in some way a self psychoanalytical process or journey for Lesley Hayes, if it wasn't, it sure was for me.
Visions of the dearly departed gave Fynn- the protagonist- a chance to dissect he
Tom Benson
Oct 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Lesley has managed within this tale to encapsulate many levels of emotion. Note that I say levels rather than depths, because you will find the folk in this story believable and experiencing the highs and lows of life. The plot serves to provide characters with frailty in one area and strength in another. On occasion some of these characters, who are all well-rounded, find themselves at loggerheads, while at other times becoming allies.
I’ve read this author’s work before so knew to expect good i
John Saunders
This is a wonderfully written story. For those who have undergone some sort of counselling/therapy, you will relate to some of the scenarios/dialogue between Fynn and Paul. The way Fynn becomes an unwilling centrepoint to Paul's family, Paul's amusing appearances throughout the book, the mysterious Jack who Fynn's free spirited mother finds washed up on a beach all make for an extremely enjoyable, funny, heartwarming and touching tale of self discovery and awareness. Thoroughly recommended.
Robin Chambers
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Drowned Phoenician Sailor shouts quality before one even gets to chapter 1. No other writer (to date) has given me Stevie Smith and T.S. Eliot to get me into the right frame of mind; and then that first paragraph: "...the cat, eyeballing me into subservience" - BLISS, like slipping into a warm jacuzzi, prior to being massaged by words precisely chosen and arranged in just the right order.

This is Lesley Hayes at her best, and a superb best it is: sharply analytical, deeply observant about the
Senan Gil Senan
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I thought the drowned Phoenician a very cleverly written story with a lovely turn of phrase and rich vocabulary. It escapes many of the limitations that restrict other stories written in the first person perspective. The author uses many tools to broaden that self-oriented perspective to a less subjective view. One of those tools is the use of ghosts who communicate only with the main character. These wraiths (as she likes to refer to them) may or may not be delusional figments of her imaginatio ...more
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The title is a reference to the tarot in T S Eliot’s The Waste Land, and is an ambiguous symbol of rebirth and/or doom. The heroine, Fynn, is a troubled personality whose long-dead twin sister Abby appears to her at intervals. Is Abby a spirit or a hallucination? In an attempt to stop these visitations, Fynn has been in psychotherapy with Paul for some time when, arriving at his consulting room for a session, she discovers him lifeless in his chair. But death does not mean the end of Paul’s cont ...more
Kayla Howarth
Mar 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
For someone who is a lover of plot driven stories, I often find character driven ones such as "The Drowned Phoenician Sailor" a tad on the difficult side.
There were a few moments in this book where it started to lag and I'll be honest in saying it was easy to put down when other things were distracting, but it was enjoyable enough to pick up again.

The main character Fynn, aka Kaya, was incredibly easy to relate to. I think everyone would easily identify with her and share common ground.
I found
Tom Thorpe
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
First and foremost, this is an enjoyable novel to read.

That said, it's more than just a good story. As might be inferred from a title that quotes from Elliot's "The Burial of the Dead" it is a tale that works on many levels as it explores: what makes a person's identity, how to resolve grief, what is real and much more.

If all that sounds a little heavy, I can assure you that it is fun to read. Heartily recommended.
Sarah Stuart
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Imagine, if you will, a lace-maker creating intricate designs with thread from a dozen separate bobbins and you will have an idea of the fascinating complexity of The Phoenician Sailor.

Is Fynn, Fynn (Fiona), or is she Kaya, and which of them found the body?

Kaya’s mother is Phoebe, and nobody could resist Phoebe with her eternal optimism that twenty-five years on, Leon, her ex, might realise his mistake and come back.

Kaya, or Fynn, is more concerned about her own sanity, because Abby, or Kassia
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: other
Ms. Hayes certainly has a way with words. The characters are so alive they feel as if you could one day meet them. This story has a bit of the paranormal, but it still feels realistic. The emotions are raw; the situations are believable. I wouldn't call this a romance, but it does have a romantic element to it. And, yes, it feels real, unlike the situation you read in so many romance novels. At its core, the story is one you get caught up in family dynamics, and the effects broken families have ...more
Jennifer Shepard
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I purchased this book because of the amazing reviews on Amazon and oh boy, they were all right. Such a good book with great characters that keeps you obsessed with every page since the first one. I couldn't put this down until I ended. The characters are so real and so well writen that you can easily find yourself or a friend reflected on them, you start to love and care for them. Fynn is easily one of the more complex characters I´ve ever read and I had so much fun with her. I´m eager to read m ...more
Ian Moore
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've just this minute finished this book and felt the urge to share my experience of it. From the outset, it seems that Lesley has the ability to lull the reader into a false sense of security. It's a little like a swimming pool, you know the type, they have a shallow end and a gently sloping gradient and at first, you feel great. You splosh straight in, the water covers your toes and you swish about making foamy bubble patterns, then you take a few steps forwards and the water reaches your knee ...more
The Drowned Phoenician Sailor is a beautifully written, character-driven novel, which quickly draws the reader into the heart and mind of the main character, Fynn. Fynn is a strong-willed, feisty, independent woman with a good sense of humor and a caring spirit. But, because she is being bothered by two ghosts on a regular basis, she fears for her sanity. One of the ghosts is her twin sister, and the other is Paul, her psychotherapist; the same psychotherapist who she was seeing because of her g ...more
Jan Riley
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am always careful not to read too much about a book before I start as I enjoy the thrill of discovering the story for myself. This book was definitely a thrill to read, sometimes rushing through in excitement, other times pausing to contemplate the deeper meanings but each chapter built a new layer of discovery. It is a story that expertly flows between several genres, psychological thriller, gentle supernatural and with a subtle heart-warming romance interwoven. Written with a humorous style, ...more
Rebecca Bryn
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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Katharine Hamilton
May 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I can honestly say I am sad after reading this book. Sad, due to the fact that I am now finished with it! I enjoyed every second of this book. I felt as if I were there right alongside the main character Fynn/Kaya, and even in her head and thoughts. The storyline is intriguing and perplex with just enough quirkiness to keep me chuckling. Lesley Hayes takes you on a journey through the complexities of human relationships, living or dead, in such a unique way that you truly sit back and eagerly jo ...more
Angela Lockwood
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Having read and enjoyed a number of Lesley’s short stories, I thought it was high time I read one of her novels and it didn’t disappoint. I admire the way Ms Hayes construct a sentence and she has a lightness of touch that stops this work from sinking into melodrama or becoming heavy. Her lightness and sense of humour makes this book very readable and enjoyable despite dealing with serious issues such as loss, abandonment and emotional abuse. I know the writer is a psychotherapist and it show in ...more
Lisa Shambrook
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you’re looking for a beautifully poignant character study, written with charming prose and style, this book is for you.

This is a character driven story with a delightfully flawed and fascinating protagonist in Fynn/Kaya. Fynn is in therapy, but right at the start her sessions are rudely interrupted by fate, and she finds herself embroiled in unexpected family drama.

Psychology runs throughout the novel challenging Fynn’s cynicism as her life takes unforeseen turns. I was hooked early on – ke
Christoph Fischer
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“The Drowned Phoenician Sailor” by Lesley Hayes is a remarkable book and a real treat. Character driven and with focus on their development this is just my type of novel. The reader is allowed to get insight into the thoughts and background of the protagonists through the analytical and reflective narrative that provides substance and much food for thought.
A huge fan of novels that use psychology and / or spiritualist themes I was extremely happy to find both of these themes in this novel. We wi
Diana Febry
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written book containing believable characters with depth which raises interesting questions. I really was not surprised to note the author is also a psychotherapist.
A short summary of the book, without giving too much away - the book opens with the death of Fynn's therapist and ends with her feeling more at ease with the concerns she sought therapy for in the first place.
I tend to read mystery/crime books where there is a clear goal or mystery to solve, that propels me through the
Alan Hughes
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing

This novel was a sheer delight from beginning to end. The main protagonist, Fynn, is a strong-willed, hard-nosed, unsentimental woman. A tough cookie. Living alone, except for her very demanding cat Morpheus, she cherishes her independence. Then a death and an encounter with an apparition triggers a series of events and encounters that takes her – and us – on a journey laced with all kinds of twists and turns.

The other reviews here adequately cover the elements within without giving away the plo
Anthony Randall
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
An eloquent and articulate portrayal of being human. Lesley’s emphatic perceptiveness is outstanding, relating our fears, qualms, insecurities and scepticism perfectly. Her writing is beautiful and quaint, and often cheeky. The protagonist Fynn, insecure and insular, can be cynically honest at times and just as sympathetic to the mystical supernatural as any rational mind can be. The story deals with the mechanics of loss and loathing, understanding, discovery and the pain and pleasure of love. ...more
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Lesley Hayes was born in Deptford, in South East London, in 1948, and started writing almost as soon as she could talk. Her first story was published when she won a literary competition at the age of 13. Between 1966 and 1992 she was regularly and prolifically published in literary and women's magazines, writing stories, serials and articles, and in 1986 had a novel published called 'Keeping Secre ...more

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