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What is true and what is false, what is love, and how we come to terms with loss - this beautiful, tender, and often funny collection of short stories about the sea tries to answer some of those questions. August Blue, a fiction based on a real painting, describes Charlie's adventures with a group of boys who steal a boat to go swimming on a hot summer's day. Years later, he reveals to his daughter how a painting that she has known for many years was inspired by that event. Delighted at the discovery, she then begins to wonder about the strange relationship the boys must have had with the artist. But Charlie cannot help remember that day for another, terrible reason: it was a day in which he nearly drowned. The collection continues with Brighton Beach Memory, a story that begins with a chance encounter while swimming in the sea. When Oliver meets Martin on a hot summer's day, he believes he has found true love, but as their relationship develops, he begins to see how dazzled he was by his happy memory of that day, and his own hopes of a brighter future. Sea Light tells how Robert Louis Stevenson once had to listen to a strange story about a lighthouse keeper dazzled by destructive visions, while in Storm Warning, a lone drinker tells a story of a fight, to the death, for love, and the riches of the sea. In The Underwater Man, an absent father haunts a boy - a boy who yearns only to be recognised as a son. Absolute Depth continues the theme: reminiscences by a famous artist’s son to a young fatherless student are clouded when both have to confront the consequences of their past. The collection culminates in Voyages, a comedy of manners aboard a liner. Miles, a seasoned traveller, sets sail across the Atlantic and is once again intrigued by his fellow passengers, among them, an elegant, mysterious Countess recovering from illness, and a morose poet she is escorting to America after an unsuccessful trip to England. What are they doing with each other? And what do they want from Miles? Comments by readers: "The writing is excellent, and the stories are real." DM "I loved the dialogue. It was often frothy and brilliant." AC

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