By Sarah Moss
176 pages
January 2021


A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR in the UK: The Guardian, The Times

“[Moss] writes beautifully about... souls in tumult, about people whose lives have not turned out the way they’d hoped. . .There’s little doubt, reading Moss, that you’re in the hands of a sophisticated and gifted writer." Dwight Garner, The New York Times

They rarely speak to each other, but they take notice―watching from the safety of their cabins, peering into the half-lit drizzle of a Scottish summer day, making judgments from what little they know of their temporary neighbors. On the longest day of the year, the hours pass nearly imperceptibly as twelve people go from being strangers to bystanders to allies, their attention forced into action as tragedy sneaks into their lives.

At daylight, a mother races up the mountain, fleeing into her precious dose of solitude. A retired man studies her return as he reminisces about the park’s better days. A young woman wonders about his politics as she sees him head for a drive with his wife, and tries to find a moment away from her attentive boyfriend. A teenage boy escapes the scrutiny of his family, braving the dark waters of the loch in a kayak. This cascade of perspective shows each wrapped up in personal concerns, unknown to each other, as they begin to notice one particular family that doesn’t seem to belong. Tensions rise, until nightfall brings an irrevocable turn.

From Sarah Moss, the acclaimed author of Ghost Wall―a “riveting” (Alison Hagy, The New York Times Book Review) “sharp tale of suspense” (Margaret Tablot, The New Yorker), Summerwater is a searing exploration of our capacity for kinship and cruelty, and a gorgeous evocation of the natural world that bears eternal witness.

“Moss heaps up the pointers to something terrible with the cruel skill of a horror technician. By the midpoint, reading feels as stressful and claustrophobic as any wet-weather getaway, and just as impossible to get out of before the appalling end . . . The world is getting worse. Moss, though, only seems to be growing more brilliant.”
―Sarah Ditum, The Times (UK)

“Moss is a writer who can say more than most others in half the space. Her latest, a haunting story of alienation set on a Scottish campsite, is the summer’s most interesting read.”
Independent (UK)

“Though her characters are trapped in their heads as well as in their cabins, Moss has fun letting them loose on the page . . . The smell of blood is never far away in Moss’s work . . . You could call it her breakout novel, which is ironic, since its subject is lockdown . . . it’s attentive to the way we live now and to our divisions . . . there’s range and vitality to the voices.”
―Blake Morrison, London Review of Books

“Tragedy looms but Moss buoys the reader along with wit and compassion as she flits between viewpoints. Endlessly interesting.”
―Hephzibah Anderson, Daily Mail

“This story of a turbulent Scottish holiday is suffused with fascination . . . Briefly juxtaposed lives are caught in vignettes sharp with telling detail and acute observation. Comedy often ripples across the surface . . . The ending is sombre, but the scenes leading up to it in this latest display of Moss’s imaginative versatility shine with intelligence.”
―Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times