Friday, 11 April 2014

Surrounded by Water - Stephanie Butland

I'm delighted to be part of this blog tour for Stephanie Butlands novel Surrounded by Water. Many thanks to Patsy Irwin, Publicity Director at Transworld for organising this Blog Tour and many thanks to Stephanie for the signed copy of Surrounded by Water which you could win in the giveaway at the end of this post.

About the book...

Elizabeth's world is turned upside down when her husband dies in a tragic drowning accident.

How typical of her kind, generous husband - a respected police officer - to sacrifice his own life saving a complete stranger's.
Or so she thinks.
What exactly was her husband doing at the lake that night? And what if his death isn't the most difficult thing she will have to deal with?
Elizabeth must face the consequences of her husband's actions. As she does so, it seems that the end of Mike's life is only the beginning of his wife truly getting to know him.

About the author...
I’m a writer, and I’m thriving after breast cancer. (I used to say I was a survivor, but that was a bit lacking in joie de vivre.)
Although I’d never have chosen it, my dance with cancer has changed my life in many positive ways. Now I am happier, healthier, and more careful with my precious life and the precious people and things in it.
I’ve written two books about my dance with breast cancer, and I’m working on my third novel at the moment.

Aside from writing, I work as a speaker and trainer, and I work with charities to help raise awareness and money in the hope that cancer will soon be about as scary as a wart.

My thoughts...
This book was the subject of much discussion on Twitter and I thought it would be right up my street - I knew I just had to read it and was sent a copy in exchange for an honest review by Stephanie's publisher at Transworld. My gut instincts weren't wrong - it was outstanding.  This is Stephanie's first novel and all I can say is WOW! How can you top this?

The story begins with the sudden death of Michael, Elizabeths husband who drowns whilst out walking the dog late one evening.

It's fair to say Elizabeth literally falls apart and is supported by her sister, mother in law and Michaels two best friends.  Michael was her soul mate and they had a perfect life, it is only as the story unfolds do we find out it had tiny, little fractures - not visible until you look closely.

Stephanie's descriptions of each of the characters was beautiful and clear.  I could visualise  every person and each seemed just perfect - I could have been reading about an incident in my village and about people I knew.

I loved the way that as the book moved forward the author also took us back allowing a glimpse into Michael and Elizabeths relationship from their first meeting, including   highlighting past events that shaped the couple into the people they had become. I was also deeply moved by the letters that Elizabeth wrote to Michael after his death - a very important part of her grieving process.

Grief is an emotion that affects everybody differently and Stephanie took me on a journey with Elizabeth that was quite exhausting - she was literally poleaxed when Michael died, barely able or willing to function.  She really was at rock bottom, shock and denial playing a big part - for every step forward another revelation would appear and Elizabeth would once again plunge into a despairing, depressed world and Stephanie cleverly took me with her.

I must have felt every emotion possible reading this book, from helplessness and sadness to happiness and elation. Sometimes life throws us a curve ball and how we react depends upon the people and characters we are to begin with.  Both Elizabeth and Michaels mother were suffering grief for the death of the same person but reacted in totally different ways - that doesn't mean either was suffering less.  I kept having to close the book and take stock as I was so immersed in the story I felt physically drained at times - feeling the sadness as vividly and deeply as if Elizabeth was my friend or sister.

Just like real life things are not always what we see on the surface so just when I thought I had it all worked out Stephanie added another twist and had me guessing again.  I have to say it got to the point where I thought 'how much more can one person take?' Enough, please!! It was quite harrowing and heart breaking to read. This story is full of secrets that required lies to hold it all together and little bits are gradually revealed throughout the book. 

It does beg the question though - do we ever really know the people we are close to? How many times have we lied by omission and not communicated how we really feel? I for one shall take stock and thank my lucky stars for the loving relationships felt by my family and hope that they are as real and true as I believe they are.

I highly recommend this novel and truly loved every page - an emotional journey that left me sitting, silently, contemplating every aspect of the story long after it had ended.

I gave this novel 5/5 stars


  1. If Dawn rated it 5/5.. It must be a brilliant book, right? ;-) Beautiful cover! It's sounds like a gripping story and I'd love to read it...
    Thanks for the chance to win this fab. book!
    Happy Reading! x M.

  2. Thanks for the great review. This sounds an amazing read and I'd love to have a copy to keep.

  3. what a great review-love to read

  4. Thanks for hosting this leg of the tour, Dawn!

  5. Heard a lot of people talking about this book and seems everyone really enjoyed it. Would defo love to check it out. Thanks for the chance lovely XX

  6. Sounds really gripping, thanks!

  7. Sounds exactly like my type of book ❤️ Good luck with it ��

  8. Sounds really good and the cover is wonderful!
    Thank you for the great review and giveaway! :)

  9. Wishing you all lots of luck with the competition - it really is a fab book :) xx

  10. I would love to win a copy of this book, it sounds brilliant :) x

  11. This book has certainly got *book people* talking on twitter. Thank you for another great review Dawn, I can see why there is a lot of excitement about it!!! Thank you for the chance of the give-away. Xxx

  12. This book is definitely on my wish list. Sounds great. Thanks

  13. Great giveaway, love the sound of the book

  14. Every actual book feels real but if it's signed by the authour, it's seems so much more special and as if there is a little bit of the author inside the book with you. Thank you Dawn for the great blog and the chance if the give-away. X