After the impact that Maurice and Maralyn by Sophie Elmhirst a new love for real life stories of discover, loss and solitude was born. So I was delighted when The Half Bird by Susan Smillie arrived from Michael Joseph Books. When I tell you this book has energy – I’m not exaggerating. Through the pages there’s an underlying sea breeze that gives this book a lift and harmonises with the breezy, minimalistic living, that it describes.

The Half Bird brings to life the joy of living with the basics and fending for oneself. Stories of people living on the sea, making it a wild and unrelentless home, can be both horrifying and invigorating. The Half Bird doesn’t sugarcoat the experience but makes it as natural as bricks and mortar living whilst also telling a deeper story and an inner journey.

Sailing, it is clear, is Susan’s obsession and the sea is the refuge that holds her. There are brilliant and vulnerable reflections, historical and mythological references and stunning coastlines explored from the vantage point of the sea. This book is both unique and familiar as it paints a picture of recognisable landmarks and visions from a new perspective.

Perfect for fans of Maurice and Maralyn, The Salt Path, Wintering, and Finding Hildasay to name but a few.

About the Book

When Susan set sail from the south-west coast of England on her beloved sailboat, Isean, she was unaware this spontaneous departure would lead to a journey spanning several years and countries across the continent.

Enduring both physical and navigational challenges, the other side of her story reveals a more important change – her inner journey – that took place. This wasn’t a challenge or a mid-life adventure; it was much gentler than that, but much greater too. She was seeking nothing less than an entirely different life, having left the land far behind to call the wild, unbiddable sea home.

About The Author

Susan Smillie is a former food editor for G2 and, and wrote mainly on travel, food and the arts. She’s the author of one previous book, The Last Sea Nomads, published by Guardian Shorts. She is based between Scotland, with her family, and Greece, where her boat, Isean, is currently moored.

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