Sunbathing - Isobel Beech
A powerful debut that explores life, death and the restorative power of friendship under the warm summer sun of Abruzzo.
Summertime in Italy, fresh vegetables from the garden, taking turns washing dishes, reading to each other, learning about cherry worms. Strange how badly I could punish myself for abandoning you once, then go and do it again.
After weeks of grieving, a woman books a plane ticket, bound for an old villa in the mountains of Abruzzo. Invited to stay with her friends Giulia and Fab - in the weeks before they marry in a village orchard - she lives for a summer in the house's Birthing Room, where generations of women once had their babies.
More often, though, she lives in her head: in the past, trying to make sense of her grief and wondering how to go on, or if she can.
As her inner and outer worlds spar and converge, she passes the time helping with the household chores, walking in the sunshine and plucking fruit from the nearby orchards, all while dwelling on the moments with her father that might have warned her something was wrong.
This spare, stunning novel explores the workings of the self in the wake of devastation and deep regret, and reveals the infinite ways that the everyday offers solace and hope.