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All at Sea by Decca Aitkenhead

All at Sea

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If you need an illustration of how life can turn from happiness to despair in an instant then read All at Sea an account that shows how, in minutes, Decca Aitkenhead's beloved husband died in front of her. On holiday, their son got into difficulty in the sea and her husband jumped in to rescue him, they both managed to get the boy to shore but her husband drowned. The story of their unlikely relationship and the aftermath of the drowning is told with clarity and a lack of self-pity that makes it hard to read at times. What does shine through is Decca Aitkenhead's tribute to her beautiful husband, her book a way of celebrating his life and considerable achievements. ~ Sue Baker

Like for Like Reading. After You by Natascha McElhone. Living on the Seabed: A Memoir of Love, Life and Survival by Lindsay Nicholson


All at Sea by Decca Aitkenhead

'The thing to remember about this story is that every word is true. If I never told it to a soul, and this book did not exist, it would not cease to be true. I don't mind at all if you forget this. The important thing is that I don't.' On a hot still morning on a beautiful beach in Jamaica, Decca Aitkenhead's life changed for ever. Her four-year-old boy was paddling peacefully at the water's edge when a wave pulled him out to sea. Her partner, Tony, swam out and saved their son's life - then drowned before her eyes. When Decca and Tony first met a decade earlier, they became the most improbable couple in London. She was an award-winning Guardian journalist, famous for interviewing leading politicians. He was a dreadlocked criminal with a history of drug-dealing and violence. No one thought the romance would last, but it did. Until the tide swept Tony away, plunging Decca into the dark chasm of random tragedy. Exploring race and redemption, privilege and prejudice, ALL AT SEA is a remarkable story of love and loss, of how one couple changed each other's lives and of what a sudden death can do to the people who survive.


'If I read a sadder, truer, wiser chapter in a book this year I will count myself fortunate ... Aitkenhead's loss was our gain'
The Times

'An exemplary memoir ... However magnificent and powerful the book, you know it pales in comparison with the loss'
Sunday Times

'This book is impossible to forget ... It reminds one that grief is about transformation, the loss of old moorings, a new permission to put the heart first- a sea change'

'Astonishing... Aitkenhead has produced a work of art'
Evening Standard

'An extraordinary memoir, a beautifully written account of life, love and what is left of both after tragedy ...Utterly heart-breaking but it's also a brave and honest account of grief and its aftermath that will stay with you long after you finish the last page'
Daily Express

'Finely observed, emotionally truthful and beautifully written, her memoir is testament to the extraordinary power of love that doesn't vanish when life of the beloved ends, but endures as long as memory itself'
Mail on Sunday

'A story of absolute heartbreak, but also a story of unbelievable courage'
Davina McCall

'An entrancing love story; a horrifying death story; a book about class, family, growing up, taking risks and learning how to be strong. Read it once, and it will be inside your head forever'
Andrew Marr

'If you buy just one book this year, make it this one. I have never read anything like it and wished it would never end'
Jennifer Saunders

'A brave book about emotional truth. It brought a tear to my eye, and will be deeply empowering for those who read it'
Tanya Byron

'Anyone who has loved, lost or grieved - that's all of us - should read it.'
Alastair Campbell

'A beautiful and painful guidebook through the taboo subject of death. Decca made me miss someone I've never met and, for today at least, savour those I love'
Russell Brand

'A remarkable story of sudden tragedy and grief, of love and resilience'
Arianna Huffington

Sunday Times

About the Author

Decca Aitkenhead

Decca Aitkenhead is an award-winning journalist (Catherine Pakenham Award 1996, Interviewer of the Year in 2009) for The Guardian newspaper, where she interviews leading figures in public life. She was born in Wiltshire in 1971, and studied politics and modern history at Manchester University, where she began her career in journalism at the Manchester Evening News. She has been a columnist and features writer for most national newspapers and magazines, and a regular contributor to BBC radio and television. She lives in rural Kent with her two young sons. In 2000 she wrote a travel book, The Promised Land, about going around the world in search of perfect Ecstasy.

Author photo © Shakira Kleiner

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Book Info

Publication date

12th January 2017


Decca Aitkenhead

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Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


240 pages


Biography / Autobiography
Summer Reading
The Real World
eBook Favourites

True stories
Coping with death & bereavement
Family & relationships
Advice on parenting



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