All at Sea by Decca Aitkenhead

All at Sea  book cover

Our Non-fiction Book of the Month for February is All at Sea, Decca Aitkenhead's honest and moving portrait of love and life in the face of loss.

About the book

Journalist Decca and her partner Tony have just celebrated the tenth anniversary of their slightly unconventional relationship when they go on holiday to the beautiful Treasure Beach, Jamaica. When their four-year-old son Jake is almost swept out to sea, Tony acts quickly to rescue him; however while Jake is safe, Tony is caught in the current and drowns. In the process of coming to terms with this tragedy, Decca Aitkenhead takes us back to the start of her and Tony's story together.

Tony had a difficult history – one that involved drugs and violence. On settling down with Decca, and after the threat of a prison sentence, he turned his life around, and ended up helping disadvantaged children. These different strands of his life also take on a meaning after his death. Decca writes “I hadn't anticipated that organising a funeral would involve negotiating with HMP Belmarsh” – rather than any friend from his criminal past, it is one of the youngsters who Tony tried to help that wants to say goodbye.

All at Sea is a no-holds-barred glimpse into Decca's negotiation of a life she never imagined – something that 'happens to other people'. From trying to deal with survivor's guilt to explaining death to young children, the book also gives poignant insight into class, race and family issues. Decca writes, “I don't mind at all if you forget this, the important thing is that I don't”. The book is written for her to remember Tony and their life together, but is in no way self-indulgent – in fact it makes you feel privileged to read it and very unlikely to forget it.

About the author

Decca Aitkenhead author All at Sea

Decca Aitkenhead is an award-winning journalist for The Guardian, where she interviews leading figures in public life. She was born in Wiltshire in 1971, and studied politics and modern history in Manchester, where she began her career in journalism at the Manchester Evening News. She has been a columnist and features writer for most national newspapers and magazines, and a regular contributor to BBC radio and television. She lives in rural Kent with her two young sons. In 2000 she wrote a travel book, The Promised Land.

Ask the author

We're inviting you to put your questions to Decca Aitkenhead. Post up your questions by midday 10 March. We'll upload the answers to each discussion thread by the end of March.