Marianne (Australia) (2008/06/04): It’s summer, 1959, and we join the Singleton family for their annual week-long holiday at The Belvedere in Blackpool. On the surface, all seems well with Jack, Ruth and their daughters, seven year-old Beth and sixteen year-old Helen. But despite appearances, none of them is truly happy. Beth, not long out of hospital, just wanting to fill in her I-Spy book and fit in, is being smothered by an overprotective Ruth. Helen is basically a good girl but really longs for a bit of freedom: deceit may be her only option while Ruth holds the reins tight. Ruth’s burning ambition is a new semi-detached house on Boundary Drive, but Jack doesn’t want to be saddled with a mortgage. And Jack is weighing up job offers against a sense of responsibility to his family and co-workers as well as mulling over a letter from Crete, a potential threat to his marriage if the secret from his wartime past is revealed. Sallie Day’s stirring descriptions of the town and its associated attractions and distractions take us back to that time with consummate ease. Her characters have real depth and she conveys their emotions and feelings so well that their joys, fears, insecurities, frustrations and guilt are palpable. This story will resonate with anyone who grew up in the late fifties. If they did that growing up in England, the mention of the various household names from that time will evoke the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of their childhood. This expertly crafted story takes some unexpected turns and keeps the reader captivated. The excerpts from I-Spy at the Seaside which head each chapter are echoed in that chapter: a delightful touch. Altogether a brilliant read!