Dooleybridge, County Galway. Population: 482 (or thereabouts). The last place Fiona Clutterbuck expects to end up, alone, on her wedding night.
But after the words 'I do' have barely left her mouth, that's exactly where she is - with only her sequined shoes and a crashed camper van for company.
One thing is certain: Fi can't go back. So when the opportunity arises to work for Sean Thornton, the local oyster farmer, she jumps at the chance. Now Fi must navigate suspicious locals, jealous rivals and a wild, unpredictable boss if she's to find a new life, and love, on the Irish coast. And nothing - not even a chronic fear of water - is going to hold her back.
Join Fi on her romantic, unpredictable adventure as she learns the rules of the ocean - and picks up a few pearls of Irish wisdom along the way...
I'd initially purchased and downloaded a copy of The Oyster Catcher when it was first published as an eBook but like many of my own purchases it has been languishing on my Kindle waiting to be read. But what a gem I had been missing out on so I'd like to thank Frances at Headline for sending me a proof copy of the paperback that's being published next week.
From the very start you are drawn into the drama after hearing about Fiona being jilted on her wedding day which resulted in her taking off in a camping van and ending up in an Irish police cell! Before she knows it she's the talk of the town but maybe hanging out in this remote village in the middle of nowhere will give her the breathing space she needs to decide what to do next...
What follows is a hilarious tale of how Fi finds herself a job, for which she knows nothing about that involves her having to try and overcome one of her phobias, as well as caught up in the midst of a few dramas. It's actually hard to write much more without giving away spoilers but suffice to say it's not all plain sailing for anyone but it all works out well in the end.
It's clear that Jo Thomas has done her research about oyster farming, there's enough information to gives us a feel of what's involved but not overly technical to put readers off.
I loved the real community feel of Dooleybridge and the way everybody knew everyone else's business, and that's definitely my personal experience from having lived in a village in the past, but at the same time generally caring about and looking out for each other even newcomers like Fi.
A fantastic debut novel from Jo which was the perfect escapism read I needed this weekend, I literally could not put it down and read it at every opportunity I could get. I'm already looking forward to reading her next novel The Olive Branch which is being published in February.