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Catch up on our webchat with Book of the Month The Tidal Zone author Sarah Moss

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SorchaMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 19-Apr-17 16:40:00

If you haven't read anything by Sarah Moss yet, start now – with our May Book of the Month, The Tidal Zone. Following a family going through an unexpected crisis, this wise and witty novel takes a magnifying glass to the NHS, parenting and the stories we tell about ourselves.

When 15-year-old Miriam is found lying in the school playground not breathing, stay-at-home dad Adam and GP mum Emma find their world turned upside down. Suddenly, long hospital stays lacking conclusion and the constant weight of uncertainty become part of their everyday struggles. What is wrong with Miriam? And why has this happened to their family?

In The Tidal Zone, Sarah Moss insightfully and often wryly comments on our health service and parenthood, but also she explores the narratives we tell ourselves – from birth, to our inevitable deaths. Sarah herself is a Mumsnet Books favourite - Night Waking was our Book of the Month in May 2012 and we're thrilled to have her back. The Tidal Zone is tipped to be her breakout novel so jump on the bandwagon, quick!

Join the discussion on this thread and chat to Sarah Moss here from 9 -10pm on Wednesday 7 June.

magimedi Thu 20-Apr-17 08:15:19

I would love a copy - really enjoyed Night Waking & can't wait to read this.

Callmegeoff Thu 20-Apr-17 19:50:09

I'd love to read this please .

magimedi Tue 02-May-17 12:16:13

My copy has just arrived.

flowers.

Looking forward to this.

remroux89 Tue 02-May-17 13:14:11

My copy has arrived. Looks so good!

Pinkbatrobi Tue 02-May-17 23:46:55

Got my copy today, thanks! Going away for a week to Italy, so this is going to be my holiday read... hope it's not too anxiety inducing, given I shall be leaving my 16-yr old DD behind with her dad...confused

horseyrider Wed 03-May-17 09:13:37

My copy arrived yesterday! Looking forward to reading it, thanks.

weathermum Wed 03-May-17 17:30:55

many thanks for the book received yesterday I will be back as soon as I have read it

P1nkP0ppy Wed 03-May-17 17:33:36

Many thanks for my copy, it arrived yesterday and I am totally engrossed! Will be back when I've finished it 😀

magimedi Thu 04-May-17 21:47:21

I have read it.

I won't be around or on line when the web chat is on so I'll give my opinion now:

I am a bit conflicted.

I really got the bit about an older teenager in what is basically a childrens' ward & thought that was very sympathetically done. But I don't see why the book swerved to Coventry Cathedral 's history (interesting though it was) nor do I see the need for the back story of grandfather.

I felt as if I was reading three books in one & could not see the reason why.

Beautifully written but some what disjointed.

cheapskatemum Mon 08-May-17 20:05:28

What a lovely surprise to receive my copy in the post! I have to finish my current read first - about Italian prisoners of war escaping internment to climb Mount Kenya. I expect The Tidal Zone to be a bit different!

horseyrider Tue 09-May-17 18:26:02

I have just finished my copy!

Interesting beginning, especially as its being told from the fathers perspective. You really feel as if you are getting to know the family.

Like the other poster, I too found it disjointed at times. Good focus on the family coming to terms with the daughters condition.

cheapskatemum Tue 09-May-17 18:50:36

The Italian narrator has started droning on about all the different routes he could take to the summit, might have to ditch him and enter The Tidal Zone, it definitely sounds more interesting!

shaktar Thu 11-May-17 20:42:42

Thank you for the book.

I have to say I loved it - though, on consideration, maybe just more for the engaging way that Sarah Moss writes rather than for the story itself. To me her books feel like listening to stories told over a gallon of red wine by a friend who is crazily more intelligent than you, yet never makes you feel patronised, rather brings you in to her innermost thoughts.
That actually makes me sound unhinged doesn't it..?!

Anyway - I thoroughly enjoyed it, even the slightly disparate storylines as I'm not sure the present day storyline would have fleshed out enough on it's own.

GhostsToMonsoon Mon 15-May-17 11:25:41

I confess Sarah Moss was another author I'd never heard of, so thank you for the chance to read The Tidal Zone, which I enjoyed.

It reminded me of the sudden tragic death a few years ago of my husband's 14-year-old cousin, who had an asthma attack at school.

Parts of the novel were very sad - coping with a child nearly dying, and Adam thinking about children dying in other parts of the world, and the fragility of life. On a lighter note, I enjoyed Adam lamenting the difficulty of getting children of any age to leave the house, and wondered if Sarah has been reading some of the shoe removal debates on here.

I'd like to ask Sarah the following questions:

1. Was it an emotionally difficult novel to write, in the sense of imagining what it must be like to have a critically ill child?

2. To what extent, if any, is Adam an autobiographical character - does he have a similar background to you in terms of having a Jewish-American parent? Were there any particular challenges in writing from a male perspective?

3. Were you like Miriam as a teenager? I was just a little in the sense that I used to read a lot and was very concerned with the state of the world, although I wasn't anywhere near as sweary or precociously opinionated. I remember 15 being quite an awkward age in the sense of not really being a child but not quite an adult either.

cheapskatemum Mon 15-May-17 21:40:11

Definitely a page-turner for me. I was looking for more of a link between Coventry Cathedral's architecture and the family, other than the obvious. At least the narrator did get to go there towards the end! I suppose I felt that, though interesting and well-written, the various threads were somewhat disparate. I have taught 15 year old girls that Miriam reminds me of! This is the first of Sarah Moss's novels that I've read and I would certainly read more.

TheOldestCat Sun 21-May-17 18:53:51

Thanks for my copy. I LOVED this book - maybe because I'm an anxious parent myself, have had anxiety problems and have anaphylaxis. So it really spoke to me!

The Coventry bits really shone out for me - the writing is just beautiful.

I'll be back to ask Sarah a question before the chat.

FoxInABox Wed 24-May-17 11:10:14

I absolutely loved this book, something about it really drew me in- the voice of the narrator, so beautifully written. I could really relate to the feeling of having a child in hospital. My youngest has himself been critically ill in hospital and so many of the parents feelings echoed my own at that time. It was so true to life- I wondered has Sarah been through something similar herself? The constant pointless bargaining in your mind, the horrible bleakest thoughts of the what ifs?, nobody knowing what to say to you, and then the relief and also panic at coming home. I still check my son is breathing throughout the night four years on. Such an event does change you, it changes your version of normal into before and after. The way the family then try to get back to living 'normal lives' after the event was also a mirror to our own story. I also loved the backdrop of history, of the grandfathers story, and the building of the cathedral- I wouldn't have thought I would enjoy that but it was so well written and was actually really interesting. A fantastic book.

musicalprof Fri 26-May-17 21:01:45

I am finally getting around to reviewing 'The Tidal Zone', having had a chance to ponder on the themes & my own feelings about the book...

This is the first book I have read by Sarah Moss & I would certainly be interested in reading more. This book grabbed me from the very first lines; in fact, the 'prologue', 'things that didn't happen', brought me close to tears.

I don't know if it's because I have had so many experiences that overlap with the themes of the book (I have a disabled daughter who has sleep apnoea & whose varying difficulties & illnesses have led to much of our family life being spent in various hospitals; I went to University on the edge of Coventry & often visited the Cathedral, finally graduating there; since having my daughter, I have been a SAHM & no longer have the teaching career I'd always strived for) but I was thoroughly gripped by the book. The only element that didn't grab me in quite the same way was the grandfather's story; I had no shared experience with this part of the book. I could certainly relate to the thoughts & feelings & every day challenges of the narrator, however!

One of the reasons I have had to wait to post my review is that when I came to the ending, I felt a little sense of anticlimax. The sense of life having to go on, as I have certainly had to learn, was very real, but I couldn't quite feel satisfied with how the book just seemed to fizzle out. On reflection, however, I really did enjoy this book & would certainly recommend it. Thank you for the copy! 😊

RuthCart Tue 30-May-17 20:38:14

I am waiting to read this one at the weekend. Some mixed reviews so looking forward to seeing what I make of it.

bellabelly Tue 30-May-17 23:16:17

I loved this. Hadn't read any Sarah Moss before so am very grateful to have discovered a new author - thank you, mumsnet. Have now read Night Waking and Bodies of Light - both lived up to my expectations. I thought that The Tidal Zone was such an interesting look at a family under stress and I really identified with the narrator, the dad.

I'd like to ask Sarah why she decided to write the novel from a male perspective - his frustrations as a (mainly) stay at home parent really resonated with me. Previous posters have mentioned a sense of disjointedness but I really liked this aspect - it seemed to me to reflect the disjointed nature of Adam's home vs work lives.

I'd also like to ask Sarah whether she has any personal experience of communes - this aspect was fascinating to me as very different from my own very ordinary, suburban upbringing!

mumofmadboys Wed 31-May-17 23:47:50

I have really enjoyed this book. It was very interesting being narrated by the stay at home dad. I could relate to much of the family situation being a GP myself and juggling kids with a busy job. I found the stories re Coventry cathedral and the grandfather's story a bit disjointed although well written and interesting in themselves. I think these interjections distracted the reader from the main story. My question for Sarah is did you base this story of a near death experience on something you have had to deal with close at home? I liked the dad in the story and thought he was very patient with his kids.

Amaksy Sun 04-Jun-17 00:05:50

Thanks for my copy, surprised I haven't yet written on here. I really enjoyed the book especially as i have never read anything by Sarah Moss before so for a first time this was good. I liked how it was set in a time I could relate to and how real the fears/ anxiety leapt across the page.

ScribblyGum Wed 07-Jun-17 14:55:49

I won't be able to join the chat but wanted to say thank you to Sarah for writing such a wonderful book. When I finished it I spent a few hours moping about feeling gutted that it was finished, and then picked it up and started again from the beginning again. Don't think I have ever done that before with a book before. This is absolutely my most favourite book of the year so far and one that I have already recommended to several friends.

Can I ask about the putting on shoes scene please? I assume you have lived through this experience more than once as it is written so perfectly. I read it out loud to dh and his response was "OMG YES!" Any tips for getting a stroppy teen off their screen and out of the door while maintaining harmonious relations? Thanks in advance grin

notqueenbee Wed 07-Jun-17 19:54:09

I have a question for Sarah - can you outline to us how and why you conceived of the story? (. By the way I loved it!)

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