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A Sea of Straw

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4.38  ·  Rating details ·  26 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Will a man walk two thousand kilometres for a woman? In 1967, Ze will. Salazar's Portugal has become a prison for him.

1966: When Jody, young mother and designer from Manchester, arrives on the Lisbon coast, she brings the lure of 'Swinging London' to Portuguese painter Ze 's existing dreams of freedom. A nascent love is interrupted when, back in England, husband Michael fo
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Paperback, 292 pages
Published October 25th 2016 by Cheyne Walk
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Average rating 4.38  · 
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Violet wells
Every night on the news borders loom large as a controversial and often explosive theme. People crossing them illegally, people thwarted by them, people incensed that controls aren’t tighter. Borders are what define us and also what hold us back. A Sea of Straw is a novel about both legislative and metaphysical borders, about a world in which freedom of movement is denied.

It’s 1966, the summer of love. Jody, married with a young child, is recuperating from pneumonia in Portugal where she falls
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Neil
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

This is Julia Sutton’s first novel. It has recently been nominated for the "Not The Booker" prize longlist. Sutton is also an artist. I mention this because her artistic nature clearly influences her writing. Colour is important as she writes. She paints word pictures for us where she gradually fills in details like someone building up a painting. She wants us to be able to see the places and people she describes. Thi
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Caroline Scott
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fados, border crossings and glorious revolutions

Jody has travelled to Portugal in order to visit her friend Leonora. But it becomes apparent that this is also a holiday from an all too humdrum marriage. Jody wants more from life than just the cycle of putting meals in front of her husband; she wants colour, the space to explore and express her creativity and to once again be her own person. For a moment this all briefly seems possible. Portugal is heat, bright light, foreign scents, sounds, sens
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Bookmuseuk
A novel that will stay with you a long, long time.

Everything about this book is precise, emotional and beautifully judged, just like the craftsman’s cobblestones on the cover.

In the mid-60s London is swinging, while Portugal is under the grip of a cruel and controlling dictator. Jody leaves Lancashire for a holiday in the sun. Her interest is in the climate, meteorological, not political. Only when she meets young artist Zé does she realise a fraction of what it means to live under oppression an
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Pj
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written and moving account of the love between a married English woman with a young child and a Portuguese artist. It was quite shocking to learn while we in the UK were enjoying the summer of love, in Portugal a totalitarian government was employing Gestapo-like surveillance and oppression. The obstacles the couple face are dramatically sustained really well throughout the novel. It’s half set against the glowing sensual colours of Portugal and half set against the more dour and b ...more
K.E.S.
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A Sea of Straw by Julia Sutton
Set in two different countries at two different times with two main characters whose paths cross but seem unlikely to cross again, A Sea of Straw engages the mind and the imagination, the intellect and the emotions. Readers will see in it their own struggles for recognition of their very personhood and will recall the birth pangs of many of Europe's newly-formed or reformed societies.
A Sea of Straw is beautifully written in poetic prose frequently reminiscent of
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Andrea Knott
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I wasn't sure initially that I would enjoy this book, since I am not a reader of romance novels. But this story went beyond romance, beyond a love strong enough to endure separation. This novel was about a man and a nation struggling to be free. Being an American, I was horrified by the level of abuse this man was forced to endure by his country's government. I found myself identifying more with this man, than I could with any other character in the book. ...more
Lucinda
Nov 05, 2016 marked it as to-read
I actually couldn't get past the free sample chapters. Too many Portuguese mistakes. Plus, I didn't enjoy the writing style and the voice of the main character.

_______________________
I'm going to read this just because it's set in Portugal. I don't trust non-native authors writing about Portugal. They never get the tone and language right.
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Luna
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
*First I want to thank the author, Julia Sutton, for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.*

A Sea of Straw is not just a love story, it is about a man, Ze, who has to deal with a corrupt and horrible regime and a woman, Jody, who must find a way out of an unhappy marriage with a young child to find happiness. These two people meet in Lisbon by chance. What follows in not just a novel packed with romance, but a book that deals with individual heartache, living under the c
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CoffeeandInk
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Julia Sutton’s debut novel is a gem. The author, also an artist, paints a word portrait with gorgeous yet earthy language, evoking a time and place long past, but still within reach.

While on holiday in Portugal, a chance encounter with a stranger leads the unhappily married Jody into an affair with the enigmatic painter Ze. The first half of the novel is Jody’s point of view. The lovers are recently parted as the story opens, yet Jody had hoped for one last glimpse of Ze before she leaves. She k
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Jaffareadstoo
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
There is much to consider in this debut novel set amidst the politically volatile background of 1960's Portugal and the steadfastness of Northern England, and which looks at a love affair which attempts to survive in a country which is in turmoil.

It's a difficult story to say too much about as I am conscious of not giving anything of the story away so what I will say is this is a well written and astute first novel. It takes a little while to get used to the time switches, moving as it does betw
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Janice
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaway-prize
In a few words, this book was extraordinary and worthy of a reader's top shelf. Stunning work. ...more
Mary Vincent
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book, as I knew nothing about the revolution in Portugal, not even that it happened, so found that side of it fascinating. I also appreciated the links with Manchester.
KarenT
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Julia Sutton brings a painter's sense of place and a historian's sweeping sense of time to A Sea of Straw. This novel is engaging and immersive, drawing the reader into the lives of Jody and Ze, revealing the very different restrictions that stand in their way. A haunting debut. ...more
miss.mesmerized mesmerized
1966, Jody, a Manchester designer, and her baby girl Anna come to Lisbon to enjoy themselves far away from her estranged husband. When she meets the Portuguese painter Zé, she immediately falls for him. Soon they are making plans even though Zé is supposed to join the military, but he is positive that his father can bail him out. Jody and Anna need to return to England, but this is only meant for leaving her husband finally and packing her belongings before she can ultimately settle in Lisbon. Z ...more
Margaret Duke-Wyer
Jody leaves her husband in their Lancashire home as she travels to her friend in Portugal with her daughter Anna in order to recuperate from an illness. It is the mid-sixties and although London is swinging, Lancashire is grey and dismal and although Jody has freedom she is trapped in a soulless marriage where men still very much rule the roost. Jody is creative and loves colour – and Portugal is a riot of colour and when she meets Ze, an artist, they fall in love.

Although Portugal is colourful
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Julia Sutton
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
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