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Making Shore by Sara Allerton

Making Shore

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Making Shore is a hugely accomplished debut novel from a small Scottish publisher. It's beautifully written with incredibly well-drawn characters who you really care about and you can even hear and smell the sights and sounds of wartime Atlantic. You feel the desperation but also the incredible determination and heroism of 19 year old merchant seaman Brian Clarke. This unforgettable and gripping novel takes its inspiration from reminiscences of merchant seaman Brian Clarke. A survivor of the Sithonia sinking, Brian, 86, was keen to highlight the great risks taken by Merchant Navy sailors to support the military war effort and keep supply lines open across the vast expanse of the Atlantic. Being based on a true event from the second World War this book is a port hole through which you can view a crucial part of WWII.

"Brian is an old family friend and though I had always been aware that he had survived a terrible ordeal during the war, I had no idea of its extraordinarily rich potential as the basis for a novel," explained Sara Allerton.

"In consequence, we had many long and detailed conversations about his experiences and in writing Making Shore, I tried to capture the essence of Brian’s story and weave together its horrors with the emotional drama it inspired in me.”

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Making Shore by Sara Allerton

Nineteen-year-old merchant seaman Brian Clarke is sure the U-boats will never hit home; he won't be the one to die. But when his ship is torpedoed in the middle of the Atlantic, he quickly learns the meaning of fear. Adrift in a lifeboat with precious little to sustain the survivors, the odds of making shore gradually lengthen. Under an unrelenting sun, slowly dying of thirst, he watches in horror as his shipmates begin to abandon hope and turn to in-fighting. Except for Joe. In refusing to renounce integrity and compassion, he keeps faith with their humanity, helping Brian through an endurance test of near-impossible proportions. And in return, Brian finds himself duty-bound to honour a promise when he returns. Based on a true incident in World War II.

SS Sithonia survivor Brian Clarke

Merchant Navy sailor and SS Sithonia survivor Brian Clarke



"This is a brilliantly conceived story of endurance and romance, in which Sara Allerton's mastery of detail and sympathy with her characters fully engage the reader. It held me enthralled until the last sentence."
Lord Butler of Brockwell

“Sara Allerton's novel is a remarkable imaginative achievement - she takes you every inch of the way on this extraordinary journey across the Atlantic; it is a compelling story of both shame and heroism.”
Edward Stourton, BBC news

“I don’t cry much over books, but this one brought a great lump to my throat. It is an extraordinary story – the grim face of war, chirpy unassuming courage, and running through, the need to keep faith whatever the cost. In the end, I did weep, but not from sorrow or despair.”
Andrew Wheatcroft, author of ‘The Enemy at the Gate’

“This breathtaking debut novel deals with man's harrowing struggle for survival in a hostile sea, but this book is so much more – a life-affirming account of love, camaraderie, anguish and coming of age, played out against a backdrop of the Atlantic swell. Making Shore is destined to become a true maritime classic.”
Angus Konstam, author of ‘Sovereigns of the Sea’, ‘Piracy’ and ‘Naval Miscellany’

“The profoundly moving story of a brotherly bond forged in unimaginable wartime suffering, of the bitterness of a terrible promise honoured, and, above all, of the hope-giving, life-sustaining selflessness of true love. Making Shore is a powerful and remarkable novel.”
Clare Gibson, The Army Children Archive

"Sara Allerton has a rare gift for words and she was unencumbered by my reluctance to revisit the raw terror, the descent into near madness or the endless tedium of my days on the doomed Sithonia’s lifeboat. She fell upon the idea of making a novel out of it with unbridled enthusiasm and came up with Making Shore– in my opinion, a masterly piece of work.”
Brian Clarke, SS Sithonia survivor

About the Author

Sara Allerton

Sara Allerton was born in Lancashire but grew up in Yorkshire. After a gap year in Australia, she studied English literature at Oxford and then went to work as an English teacher in Spain. On returning to the UK, she continued to teach until she married and moved to Suffolk. She lives near Woodbridge with her husband and three children. Making Shore is her first novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

26th May 2010


Sara Allerton

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Saraband (Scotland) Ltd


272 pages


Historical Fiction
Debuts of the Month
Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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