Saturday 17 November 2018

High jinks on the high seas

Romance: All at Sea, Paula Lawless, Poolbeg, €9.99

All at Sea
All at Sea

Margaret Carragher

From aerobics and slimming clubs to Paris and online dating, the directive to write about what you know has served author Paula Lawless well. Now, having discovered the delights of high-end cruising since relocating part-time to Florida, Lawless has channelled her experiences into her seventh novel.

Featuring the exploits of three very different families, All at Sea opens in a stately, south Dublin drawing room where, in the run-up to Christmas, Bunny McElroy, the glamorous, upwardly mobile wife of self-made millionaire Richard, has gathered her adult children and their partners to announce that she has organised an all-expenses-paid Caribbean cruise for the family. However, while Bunny's gesture is doubtless well meant, it provokes no little consternation among the assembled company, not least her wayward 19-year-old daughter Sara, and Gavin, her eldest and wisest.

Meanwhile, sick and tired of his in-laws descending en masse for the festive season, Galway-based property developer, control freak and all-round bully boy Tony Kenny goes shopping online for a different kind of Christmas. When he subsequently presents his family with a Caribbean cruise, Tony's timorous wife Ann and compliant young adult kids Jack and Emily have little option but to go along.

Then there's hot-shot banker and serial philanderer Declan Jordan whose latest bit on the side, Alix, is demanding more from their relationship. Playing for time and running scared, Declan fabricates a family emergency before whisking his sweet and unsuspecting wife Cassie off on a Caribbean cruise. But Alix gets wind of Declan's scheme and books herself on to the selfsame cruise. And so the scene is set for drama and high jinks.

This book has evidently been well researched, and while some of the secondary characters are superfluous to the plot and extraneous details tend to clog up the narrative, fans of Lawless will doubtless find much to enjoy in her bright and breezy tale.

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