"If you want a portrait of a single mother suffering depression look no further, this is the one character study you should pick up, I promise you’ll be impacted." Messengers Booker

 

"There is no doubt it is a challenging, heart-wrenching read, but it is also a classic that will bear repeated readings." Andrew Roads, Culturethèque

 

"I applaud Olmi for exploring such an extreme picture of the darker aspects of motherhood, as inconvenient and shocking as they might be, as the news tells us everyday of the terrible things that happen right under people's noses, but rarely do we hear the full story or receive any insight into the lead-up of what happened." Tolstoy is my Cat

 

"How many parents like her are truly out there? If you've had inadequate parenting how you can truly parent well yourself? What can we do to help? Why do people look the other way from these kinds of social issues? Beside the Sea is a powerful book that raises more questions than it answers and I'm glad that I took the time to read it." Tiny Library
 

 

"All that I’d heard about this book could never have prepared me for what I was going to experience. Beside The Sea deals with depression, obsession, and mental illness ... The writing, and dare I say this English translation, for we must give Adriana Hunter her good due, is exquisite, the structure is superb, and what is at once a simple book and a complex one is just incredible." The Worm Hole

 

"My head was empty when I finished reading this book. I don’t know why. I know and yet the book shook me in several ways, ways I did not think it was capable of. The book takes you by surprise (or may be by shock?) and manages to make you think long after you have finished reading it."  Of Book and Reading

 

"There is no denying that it is a beautifully executed story and one where you can feel the intensity of emotion for the mother of two small boys, but I suppose this is another case of it being a book that I can greatly appreciate but maybe not love? It was simply too devastating for me despite the power of the storytelling." A Work in Progress

 

"Beside the Sea has one of the most disquieting opening paragraphs I have read. ... It’s a paragraph heavy with implication. Why is it important nobody sees the narrator and the boys? Why is the jam wasted? Why won’t it be useful the next day?" Max Cairnduff, Pechorin's Journal

 

"It's a book that will grab you - make you fall into this young woman's depression and yet want to say 'Whatever you're planning to do, don't do it! There is another way'." Maryom, Our Book Reviews online

 

"It's hard to explain how this forward-backward motion is accomplished, but it works to create intense suspense. Maybe set a timer to remind yourself to breathe occasionally...
This would probably be considered a novella, but it's impact is not minimized by its size. ... It is flawless in describing an inner struggle with sanity in a world that appears insane on its own." Amy Henry, The Black Sheep Dances 
 

"And yet, the impact of this story, the endless thinking back on it in these past weeks, have made me come to love it. This is the kind of book you read in a few hours, but will remember for months to come. And I do not see how it could leave you unaffected." Iris on Books

 

"Beside the Sea is a spectacular book, one that succeeds astonishingly well in the task Olmi has set herself. It is emphatically a novel about motherhood and the difficulties associated with the mother-child bond, one that chooses to explore the darker, less popularly conceived notions of child raising. The final pages, for all that they were foreshadowed throughout the entire book, caused a quickening of my heart in a manner which I have only experienced during my own, personal, emotional situations, which is to say it touched me to the quick in a way I did not expect and for which I am profoundly grateful." Damian Kelleher,Literary Reviews and Essays

 

"I mentioned in my review of Room that it was this book that had pointed up to me the big weaknesses of Emma Donoghue's much hyped, Booker longlisted novel. The fact is that in a far shorter work Olmi writes completely convincingly about someone alienated from the world they live in and about a mother's desire to protect her children from harm, two of Room's major themes. She does this with a simple narrative voice, without a grand concept and the book is all the more effective for it, with the final few pages delivering a dénouement that hits you right in the solar plexus and left me just a little devastated." William Rycroft, Just William's Luck
 

 

"It is hard to tell if people are really cold and cruel or if the mother, only perceives this to be the case ... Beside the Sea, is a sad, sad novel. It is is also unique, moving and completely heart-stopping." Polly Littlewood, novel insights

 

"You know the blurby phrase, “slim powerhouse” — this is that. It just packs so much.... That if anyone would ever have the mad idea to give me a teaching position, this would be one of those books that’d just be perfect to teach and dissect and wonder at. Because I’m just so sure that no matter how many Whys and Hows I throw at it, those questions won’t be answered the way I want them. Because Olmi, man, that Olmi sure knows what she’s doing." Sasha Martinez, Sasha & The Silverfish

 

"I’m glad that I waited to post my review of this book. Immediately after reading I rated it 3/5. The more I think about the story though, the more highly I think of it. What I was rating immediately was my mood, not the writing. I think the author did an amazing job and pulled off exactly what she meant to – no mean feat!" Amy McKie, Amy Reads

 

"I still gasped out loud when the novella reached its inevitable climax. This is a beautifully written story, but one that will haunt me for quite some time." Laura Lindsay, lauramusings

 

"Beside the Sea is a story of dissonance and the clash of opposing halves, of mental darkness and the "good mother" trying to reconcile in one individual. ... The real power of Beside the Sea is precisely this juxtaposition of the idyllic and the aberrant. ... Beside the Sea is frightening not only because of its ending but because its troubled protagonist is so relatable. Her character is not as alien as we would like it to be. Her duties and feelings as a mother are reflected right back at us and we can't comfortably detach her from the rest of humanity. Beside the Sea is the type of book that will remain with the reader for a long time afterwards and requires a certain amount of bravery to approach." Eileen Fay, this-book-and-I-could-be-friends

 

"This story is like a film from the kitchen sink era of films in the late 50 and 60 ‘s,ordinary life but with extraordninary events happening within those lives. Also the french film le boucher has a similar feel to this novel, first off everything seems ok  - the main charcater seems ok on the surface, but like the mother in this book hides a very dark secret. The lack of detail like the mothers name and actual setting dosen’t stop this story flowing off the page, the beauty of the writing is in the description of the boys and the mothers internal fellings." Stu Allen, Winstonsdad's blog 

 

"Compelling and horrifying, the book pulled me into the life of a frightened and unbalanced woman. Good fiction lets the reader stand in the shoes of its characters and takes them somewhere they have not been before. Beside the Sea does this." Wendy Robards, caribousmom

 

"I believe that the critical praise accorded to it is more than deserved. But I am not going to recommend it. I cannot in good conscience do so, because – rarely for me – I rather wish I could un-read it. ... Is it, as it somehow seems it ought to be, an exploration of a tragic set of circumstances? Does it really expand our understanding of the protagonist’s situation, a real situation which urgently needs to be understood and addressed? Or is the experience of “seeing” something terrible supposed to be the point of it all?" Kirsty McCluskey, Vulpes Libris
 

"In a way, I was thankful that this novel is short. It’s so intense and bleak, building up the portrait of this damaged woman who lives for her boys, and you sense that there are more shocks to come. I won’t say more. The translation excellently captures the mother’s voice, and you really feel sympathy for the mother and her sons. ... It was an extremely thought-provoking and uncomfortable read that will stay with you." Annabel Gaskell, gaskella
 

"What an extraordinarily powerful book this is ... short, intense and quite unlike anything I've read before. ... Fear and isolation, love, loneliness and lack, all these govern the woman's actions and lead to the book's dreadful conclusion. This is motherhood turned in on itself, and it's raw and painfully plausible, horribly real; as such this is not an easy book to read, but please don't let that stop you." Karen Howlett, cornflower

 

"Beside the Sea has the most intense narrative I have ever read. The words pull you in, leading you towards an ending that you know will be devastating. A dark sense of foreboding dominates the text, but when I finally reached the conclusion it was far more poignant than I could ever imagine." Jackie Bailey, Farm Lane Books

 

"And then Olmi delivers her final shocking blow. To be perfectly honest, I had seen enough reviews of this book on other blogs to guess that something very bad was going to happen. However, I still found the ending so powerful, so intense and so quietly devastating that I'm still thinking about it a week down the line... By showing the extraordinary in the very ordinary, Olmni has crafted a fine novel indeed. Beside the Sea may not be a cheery read, but it's a hugely emotional one that deserves the widest possible audience. " Kim Forrester, Reading Matters

 

"Reading this character’s story is an intense, discomforting experience; her words spill out in a torrent of clauses, pushing inexorably on to the conclusion, which has no less impact for being anticipated (and may actually have more). Beside the Sea is a superb character study that marks out Peirene Press as a publisher to follow. " David Hebblethwaite, Follow the Thread

 

"I can’t think of many books where the atmosphere and intensity of the novel come off the page so instantly and leave you to read on even if you aren’t sure you want to. ... A compelling book from an author whose entire back catalogue of work I hope will get translated. I would be the first in the queue to read anything of hers that comes out in English in the future, or I will just have to learn fluent French if not, that’s how good this is. " Simon Savidge, savidge reads

 

"I suppose the mark of a good book is that it affects you while you’re reading it and stays with you afterwards, and this one did both. ... The ending was brilliant. ... I expected it, but even as it was happening I was wishing it wouldn’t. It made me cry, which is quite rare. "Andrew Blackman

 

"I was quickly drawn in to this tragic tale, and finishing the book this morning, I found myself full of pity for this little family ... The voice which narrates the tale is perfect. ... And its Véronique Olmi's ability to seek out a sympathetic response in her readers which makes this book work - her readers are not just causal observers of this seaside holiday but find themselves longing for this intractable set of problems to be solved. " Tom Cunliffe, A common reader

 

"I was initially thrown by the tone of the novel, being so different from what I expected - and I did worry that it would be like so many other novels, in a 'real' voice which is so jarring and unsatisfying. But Olmi is much cleverer than that - ... [she] manages to build tension without explaining much ...The writing also gets better and better as the novel progresses - But far and away the best writing comes in the final ten pages. The climax has arrived and, though perhaps the reader has predicted it, that doesn't make its arrival any less affective." Simon Thomas, stuck-in-a-book

 

"Be prepared for one of the saddest endings to a book you might read this year or even this lifetime. I'm not sure I've ever read anything quite like it ...it's one of those last sentence books... I have to applaud Adriana Hunter's translation of the mother's narrative voice which I feel sure has been captured and preserved in perfect pitch." Lynne Hatwell, dovegreyreader