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The Sea House by Esther Freud

The Sea House

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"Architect Klaus Lehmann loved his wife with a passion. Years later Lily arrives in Steerborough to research his life. She finds letters that he wrote to his wife. Her partner Nick is too busy to contact her and she realises she is becoming enthralled by the sea, the village and its unusual beauty."

The Sea House is an enjoyable and well-written book. It is set in Suffolk in the 1950s but the landscape, village and its surroundings are distinctive and recognisable today, which enhances the reading experience.

Freud's writing is beautifully descriptive, not just about the scenery and places, but in the details of people and their behaviour. One of the main male characters is deaf and some of the images conveying this are remarkable. The principal characters, both male and female, are strong. The book is driven by structure rather than plot, giving it a rhythm of real life, though the alternation of viewpoint between three main male characters took us some getting used to.

By setting the story a few years after the Second World War and including Jewish and German characters, Freud effectively portrays the tension that can arise between expectations and the sense of obligation in relationships. She also enhances the story by incorporating local events such as the Great Flood of 1953.

We really enjoyed reading The Sea House, particularly due to Freud's skilled writing and its familiar setting.