Tuesday 18 November 2014

Review ~ The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas.

Title: The Oyster Catcher.
Author: Jo Thomas.
Publisher: Headline.
Genre: Women's Fiction.
Publication Date: November 6, 2014.
Source: Bookbridgr/Netgalley.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

Dooleybridge, County Galway. Population: 482 (or thereabouts).
The last place Fiona Clutterbuck expects to end up, alone, on her wedding night.

But after the words 'I do' have barely left her mouth, that's exactly where she is - with only her sequined shoes and a crashed camper van for company.

One thing is certain: Fi can't go back. So when the opportunity arises to work for Sean Thornton, the local oyster farmer, she jumps at the chance. Now Fi must navigate suspicious locals, jealous rivals and a wild, unpredictable boss if she's to find a new life, and love, on the Irish coast. And nothing - not even a chronic fear of water - is going to hold her back.

Join Fi on her romantic, unpredictable adventure as she learns the rules of the ocean - and picks up a few pearls of Irish wisdom along the way...

Sometimes all you need is to read a book that will make you smile and The Oyster Catcher is effortlessly uplifting. It was a book I picked up on a whim and one I soon learnt I had no intention of putting down but more than just being a feel-good story, The Oyster Catcher was beautifully written, romantic, dramatic and faultlessly entertaining. I’ve read few books that feel less like a debut novel than this one and can’t see any way in which Jo Thomas won’t become an accomplished women’s fiction writer. In The Oyster Catcher, she created a community with characters I’m still missing and thinking about and I completely fell for her gorgeous, descriptive writing in what has become one of my favourite novels this year.

Left on her wedding day, Fiona Clutterbuck comes crashing into the small village of Dooleybridge in her wedding dress and the campervan that was planned for her honeymoon. Instantly, I liked Fi and from the opening few pages I knew I cared what happened to her. Fi is searching for a job and encounters Sean Thornton, who employs Fi without her actually knowing what the job entails. Instead of an office job, Fi finds herself working on Sean’s oyster farm, something she knows little about and that’s probably not helped by her fear of water. I loved Jo’s writing of the oyster farm and how well researched it all felt. I didn’t expect to be so easily fascinated by a subject I’d barely even heard of before this book but I was and I loved how the descriptive writing helped me learn about oyster farming without it being overly explained and uninteresting.

As Fi begins working, we see the daily routine she has to work from catching and packing oysters to caring for the animals and making sure they were in the right place unlike a certain donkey that kept wandering off all for the sake of a little romance. Even though of course every day for Fi and Sean was different - it wasn’t repetitive - I thought knowing the few daily jobs they had to do on the oyster farm made it feel believable and not just a job that was made unrealistic for the sake of an entertaining novel. Jo’s writing was charming and I loved all the little quirks of the work on an oyster farm and the humour some of the animals like the donkeys and Brenda the goose contributed to. Working on an oyster farm was not all that straightforward and some of the drama they encountered at work really brought this book to life, from the stealing of oysters to Fi’s disastrous tendencies. The at-times mad antics of Fi’s time on the oyster farm were written with charm and wit. I loved Fi’s inclination to tackle most things put in front of her even though often she had no clue what was happening or what to do about it. I loved her character and the heart and spirit she showed – who knew I could be inspired by a semi-disastrous oyster farmer?

The writing of Dooleybridge and the characters that made up the community was great fun to read too. I loved how wonderfully descriptive it was, from the area to the characters and the feel of living in amongst them in a small community. It felt like the typical kind of community in the way it was built up, from the stirrers and the gossips to the people who are so caring and easy to befriend, yet as they all work together to put Dooleybridge back on the map, it had the lovely spirited feel of a community you’d love to be a part of. Some of the scenes involving the locals down in the pub were my favourites, with the humour and chatting to the force of optimism and not-so-subtle gossiping. Another thing I loved about the characters in The Oyster Catcher was the natural progression of building relationships, from trust and friendship to the romance as well. Actually, nothing about this book was rushed. The flow of the novel was captivating and beautiful and ultimately I adored reading about the lives of Fi, Sean and Grace – what a gorgeous, heart-warming novel.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK


  1. I have this book and after reading such a good review I think it needs to be higher up on my tbr pile!

    1. Thanks, Linda! I hope you like it as much as I did :)

  2. Think I need to get this. Fantastic review. Will put on my Christmas list. X

  3. I really want to read this book now, a brilliant review as always!


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