Read All at Sea by Decca Aitkenhead Online


‘The thing to remember about this story is that every word is true. If I never told it to a soul, and this book did not exist, it would not cease to be true. I don’t mind at all if you forget this.The important thing is that I don’t.’On a hot still morning on a beautiful beach in Jamaica, Decca Aitkenhead’s life changed for ever.Her four-year-old boy was paddling peacefull‘The thing to remember about this story is that every word is true. If I never told it to a soul, and this book did not exist, it would not cease to be true. I don’t mind at all if you forget this.The important thing is that I don’t.’On a hot still morning on a beautiful beach in Jamaica, Decca Aitkenhead’s life changed for ever.Her four-year-old boy was paddling peacefully at the water’s edge when a wave pulled him out to sea. Her partner, Tony, swam out and saved their son’s life – then drowned before her eyes.When Decca and Tony first met a decade earlier, they became the most improbable couple in London. She was an award-winning Guardian journalist, famous for interviewing leading politicians. He was a dreadlocked criminal with a history of drug-dealing and violence. No one thought the romance would last, but it did. Until the tide swept Tony away, plunging Decca into the dark chasm of random tragedy.Exploring race and redemption, privilege and prejudice, ALL AT SEA is a remarkable story of love and loss, of how one couple changed each other’s lives and of what a sudden death can do to the people who survive....

Title : All at Sea
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780008142162
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

All at Sea Reviews

  • Elyse
    2018-12-29 22:19

    "I am a total amateur at feeling sad, and have no idea how to control the constant flashbacks in my mind to the beach and Tony's body. Sometimes the flashbacks aren't even true; I keep picturing myself pulling Jake unconscious from the water, frantically trying to revive him, and I am pitched into hysterical panic over something that did not happen". "My family organized a system of bereavement and which anything as chaotic as anguish could be reasoned away. We help ourselves together, congratulating ourselves on our superior analysis of death, as if grief were a form of obesity or debt--a shamefully lapse of self control. We imagined we were sparing ourselves the indignity of emotional commotion, and didn't realize that, without it, recovery is forever deferred, leaving you suspended in a state of pressure". "Sooner or later, something had to give". A memoir of grief. I never know how to rate authors memoirs ---so I'll return to my old original rule which has been my guideline - for myself- in rating all memoirs...UNLESS ---there is something that is completely transpired in me from having read either inaction or a complete shift in thinking...then I don't rate memoirs higher than 3 stars. On the other hand--it's very rare I'd ever rate one lower. This is a sad story about a grown man who died-- a woman's husband. On the other hand it's a blessing that her child lived. Her husband saved their child. As far as the details about her marriage -and her husband's past criminal record prior to their marriage, her first marriage, the 7 year itch affair she had.....I didn't particularly find any of it very interesting - or even relevant to the experience of shocking loss, a sudden single parent of two boys, and the process of grieving and steps taken to begin healing. However, I'm sorry for the authors loss - and I hope writing this memoir has been a positive part of her healing for she and her children.

  • Maxwell
    2018-12-29 03:02

    I really commend Aitkenhead for her honesty and vulnerability in writing this. She doesn't try and paint herself in the best light, and while that could be off-putting to some, I respect her for not trying to hide unsavory details for appearance's sake. I found the most interesting aspects of this memoir to be about her relationship with Tony, about how they didn't fit into the conventional stereotype of a romantic relationship, and everything that came before the tragic moment that starts the book. I'm surprised by her clarity and ability to write about grief, especially dealing with the loss of someone so close to her. It's not the best memoir on grief I've read, but I appreciated her insights parenting and shielding or exposing your child to grief—something I hadn't really read about before.3.5 stars

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2018-12-23 00:09

    This is a backlist title from my Book of the Month stash. This is about when a man named Tony drowns in Jamaica after saving his son. Tony and Decca aren't the most likeable characters, but the capture of grief had me nodding my head a lot, particularly navigating the behaviors of other people surrounding the bereaved. 3.5 stars.

  • Bam
    2019-01-01 21:17

    In All at Sea, Decca Aitkenhead, a well-known, award-winning Guardian journalist, has written a memoir of the tragic drowning of her partner, Tony Wilkinson, while vacationing with their two young sons in Jamaica. She appears to be completely honest and open about their rather messy lives: how they met while married to others, how Tony's drug/gangster lifestyle nearly ended their affair, and how he turned his life around to be with her. Now she is coping with the aftermath of the media-publicized tragedy of his death and its effects on her two young sons while picking up the pieces of her own life and getting on her feet financially. Decca can't help but flashback to her own mother's death when she was just turning eleven and the fears and problems that haunted her afterwards. How can she help her sons cope in a better way--especially the one who feels to blame for his father's death? When the first playground bully taunts her sons about their father's criminal past, how can she begin to explain things to them? After nine months of feeling 'all at sea' in her life, Decca returns to Jamaica with her sons and two friends, where everyone talks about Tony's death straightaway--no pussyfooting around the subject as her friends in England continue to do--and that helps jumpstart the healing process and brings a return to the joyfulness of life. "Because death really is a part of life here. The presumption of longevity is a first-world luxury no one in Treasure Beach takes for granted; everyone is bereaved, one way or another, and at last I am no longer the tragic curiosity."The tone of this memoir reminded me so much of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Perhaps it was the gritty honesty of Decca Aitkenhead's account--she doesn't seem to hold much back. This was a very public tragedy, much covered by the media, so if you are curious enough to want to see photos of these people, a Google search will provide plenty. I am grateful to Doubleday and the Keep Turning Pages group (September, 2016 pick) for a hardcover copy of this book that I was fortunate enough to win in their giveaway contest. Thanks so much!

  • Lindsey
    2018-12-18 23:59

    DNF. I've had a really hard time with this review. I'm not sure how to tell someone that I was put off by her life story, especially when it is tinged with so much tragedy. I know these are real people, and this is the author's real pain, and she really lost her husband and their children witnessed the loss of their father. I find those bare facts to be devastating. But...when the details are filled in I find I'm less and less capable of sympathy. I'm not very fond of the woman narrating the story. In fact, I don't think I would like to be friends with her, or even casual acquaintances. She's cold and selfish, she casually commits adultery, and she expects those around her to just accept her bad choices. She seems like the type of person who is incapable of accepting responsibility for her actions, instead deflecting the blame to others. Even worse than the fact that she is unlikable, I don't like her husband. Despite the author's many, many, many attempts at painting her husband as a good man, the truth is that he was a violent criminal who was addicted to crack and sold cocaine for a living. She knew he was violent, even once witnessing him violently attack a man and leaving him unconscious on the side of the road, and he often told her he enjoyed the violence. And while her adultery only hurt her husband, he had a wife and child at the time their affair began. I'm not saying that these things mean he deserved to die. But it's hard to feel sorrow over the death of a man who sent bad things out into the world. My sorrow over his death is based on the fact that his young sons were deprived of having a father.I received this book through Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

  • Diane S ☔
    2018-12-18 19:05

    3.5 review to follow.

  • Rebecca Foster
    2019-01-03 22:18

    In May 2014, Aitkenhead, a Guardian writer, was on holiday with her partner Tony Wilkinson and their two young sons in Jamaica. A beautiful sunny morning turned disastrous when Tony swam out to rescue their son Jake. He was able to pass the boy off safely, but then got sucked into the undercurrent and drowned. After the tragic events of the first chapter, this wrenching memoir retreats to consider the 10 years she and Tony (a former criminal and crack addict) spent as “the most implausible couple I have ever known.” More than half the book is devoted to the aftermath of Tony’s death, described in a matter-of-fact style that still manages to convey the depth of Aitkenhead’s pain. This is a unique combination of a journalist’s forthright storytelling and the ‘magical thinking’ Joan Didion introduced.See my full review at Nudge.

  • MKL
    2019-01-06 00:58

    This is the first goodreads giveaway I have received, and I wish I could say I enjoyed it, but I didn't. While it is at times a touching tribute, I am put off by her skewed sense of entitlement, and dislike her more and more as the book goes on. This surprised me, but it is honestly how I felt.

  • Kristen Richeal
    2019-01-06 20:21

    I received this as a Goodreads giveaway. This is a memoir about grief with at times unlikable characters.

  • Lynn
    2019-01-03 20:19

    One of the best memoirs I've read. I love Aitkenhead's writing style. What an open, honest, and inspirational story of a young widow's life in the aftermath of life-altering loss. Highly highly recommended.

  • Jean Cole
    2019-01-11 22:03

    First, let me say that despite the terrible tragedy recounted in this book, I did not cry. Tuesdays with Morrie? Sobbed uncontrollably. Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog? There weren't enough Kleenex in the house. While the events in this story are undeniably heart-wrenching, some how I wouldn't describe this as a sad story.This memoir is an unflinchingly honest, yet gentle and tender examination of the grief Aitkenhead experiences after she watches the love of her life, Tony, drown while saving the life of their son. She invites us into her world where no one knows what to say, some people say the worst thing they can say, and others say just the right thing. Where the people in her life fall along this spectrum is unpredictable and in some cases, very surprising.She also contrasts this grieving experience with the loss of her mother to cancer when Aitkenhead is just 9 years old. Having been brought up in an unconventional family, the way the loss of her mother was handled stands in vivid contrast to the sudden loss of Tony, and she begins to realize how that early loss has colored her life experience in ways she had never considered.Aitkenhead is an immensely talented writer and I found myself underlining certain passages:"But I think I understand how a funeral can become a battleground over ownership of the deceased, because it can be easier for the bereaved to find something to be angry about than to let themselves feel sad.""Only now do I understand that loneliness is not an absence of company, but of meaning. The daily details of my existence still matter to Jake and Joe [their sons], but there is no longer an adult alive for whom they hold any material significance.""A lie doesn't become dangerous only with exposure; it is toxic, however well buried."There are many more, but these are some of my favorites.Anyone who has suffered a sudden and tragic loss will find comfort in this book. Anyone who knows someone who has suffered a sudden and tragic loss will gain insight because of this book. Which covers just about everybody. Highly highly recommend.

  • Laura
    2019-01-07 20:20

    An honest, clear-eyed memoir of the intricacies of dealing with sudden loss. No sentimental heartstring-tugging here. Aitkenhead pays homage to the life of her partner and works through her grief in the nine months following his death.

  • Kasandra
    2019-01-06 02:19

    An astonishingly honest and clear-eyed portrait of grief, Aitkenhead is clearly not angling here for sympathy, but rather recording her story for posterity (her children) as well as society. Not at all self-indulgent or melodramatic, this is one of the finest renderings I have read that covers the range of both emotion and numbness that follows in the wake of trauma. Heart-breaking but also full of hope. I'd love to read another memoir a few years from now to see how she and her family have survived, grown, and hopefully thrived. A painful book to read, excellently written.

  • Carey
    2019-01-10 19:20

    This was not an easy book to read, and I almost put it down several times. It’s a tragic memoir written by a journalist living in the UK. She and her life partner,Tony, have two young sons together. Tony drowns while trying to save their drowning 4 year old son. The child lives, the father dies. Decca Aitkenhead is forced to begin dealing with heart-wrenching grief. As the book unfolds, we learn of Tony’s secret drug addition and criminal background. This was shocking; however, it’s not my place to judge him or their relationship. Aitkenhead explains that she wrote the memoir to get peace, healing, and closure. I hope she accomplished this and is able move on with her life. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain she endured.

  • Mary
    2019-01-09 03:02

    Finished this book over a week ago and still thinking about the tragedy of losing Tony. Decca has written a beautiful story about tragic events that took place during a family vacation, a serene and well loved travel destination. It's beyond heartbreaking but also full of light. I think Tony would be immensely proud of the story Dec shared with the world.*I won a copy of this book through KEEP TURNING PAGES Goodreads group. Many thanks to Doubleday and the fantastic members of KEEP TURNING PAGES for sharing their opinions of each of our wonderful monthly selections.

  • Diane Perry
    2018-12-26 21:20

    I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a very gritty, raw, and no holds barred memoir. Unputdownable! Their relationship was certainly unconventional and their very tragic, but you cannot help but to read every single word and believe the love she had for Tony. It was quite unexpected but I'm glad I was asked to read it.

  • Jenny
    2018-12-30 22:16

    "After everyone has gone home... in the silence it strikes me that having witnessed both birth and death, I know which one taught me the meaning of life."

  • Grass monster
    2019-01-08 01:06

    As the blurb reads :In May 2014, on a hot still morning on a beautiful beach in Jamaica, Decca Aikenhead’s life changed irrevocably. First her four year old son Jake, pootling by the water’s edge in his pyjamas, was dragged out to sea on a riptide. Then Tony, her partner and Jake’s father, dived in to save him, but drowned in the process.Tony – a Northern, mixed race former prisoner, drug dealer and crack addict – “Black” and “Decca” – a prize-winning Guardian journalist from the West Country – had always made an improbable couple. For years they tried to find a way to come together from very different starting places. Tony reformed himself, got an education, and then a job. Decca bore him two sons and they bought a medieval farmhouse in Kent and set about transforming it. A decade on, lying in the sand in their favourite place in the world, young, strong, fit and with their children playing at their feet, they were congratulating themselves on their achievements when everything was ripped away.Bookended by the deaths of her mother in childhood, and Tony this year, ALL AT SEA looks at class, race, privilege and prejudice through the prism of Decca’s life and these deaths. It stares into the dark chasm of our worst nightmare – a random accidental tragedy – and somehow finds the light on the other side.My thoughts :This book is beautifully written and i feel i really got to know the real Tony through Decca's words and insights. You can feel the effect grief had on Decca and the children and rightly so when we lose someone we love. It deals more so with life just after Tony's death and at times i felt we were focused to much on his past rather than the present. But i can see that Decca did this so we could get to know the real Tony and this will be an account of him for Joe & Jake to read when they are older.We also learn of how Decca lost her own mother as a child and puts into play how she now deals with death towards her own children. As with any Memoir about tragady, you cant say you enjoyed the story, but it was a very brave account of love, life and loss.

  • Emily
    2019-01-10 20:20

    Where to start!? Great story line, full of grief. Chapters DRAGGED on tho and by the end of each chapter I was like "I get the message I don't need 10 more pages till the next chapter!" I would recommend this to anyone who has a lot of free time. School kinda interrupted this for me, still enjoyed it tho!

  • Tina Panik
    2019-01-01 00:14

    Shakespearean in scope, this memoir will puncture every belief you have regarding love, race, and loss. The prose is beautiful.

  • Emily Webb
    2019-01-07 22:14

    This short book is full of beautiful prose and a refreshingly honest snapshot of raw grief and loss. I think it would be helpful for those who have experienced loss (to not feel so alone with the wild emotions and thoughts) as well as those who haven't yet experienced loss (someone you know has).

  • Judy
    2019-01-08 03:14

    Could not put it down. Very sad at points, but a beautiful read.

  • Karyl
    2018-12-31 20:11

    Losing someone dear to you, especially when it happens suddenly, is devastating. I can't imagine how much worse it must be when you see it happen and feel utterly powerless to prevent it from happening. Aitkenhead is on vacation in Jamaica with her partner Tony and their two small boys when Jake begins to flounder in the water. Tony rushes in to save him, but ends up drowning himself, in front of Aitkenhead, their sons, and several of their friends. What follows is an account of who Tony had been both before and after his relationship with Aitkenhead, as well as comparisons between Aitkenhead's loss of her partner and the loss of her mother to cancer when she was just 9 years old. I realize that not everyone will like Aitkenhead, not least because she began her relationship with Tony when she was still married to her first husband. But this memoir is so honest, so raw. She doesn't sugar coat anything or make herself out to be an angel because grief does weird things to a person. I'm not sure I'd want to sit down and have coffee with her, and her ideas on family and just plain living are a bit foreign to me, but she is unfailingly straightforward and honest throughout this entire memoir. This book is wonderful, though difficult to read, because we see how a person is never wholly good or wholly bad, that people and their decisions are always varying shades of gray. Was Tony a criminal and a crack addict? Yes, he was, but he gave up crack cold turkey and turned his life around, completing his education and being an amazing father, holding down the fort when Aitkenhead had to fly off for another assignment and doing such a good job she barely even noticed how he was the glue that held the family together. As a result, Aitkenhead's grief is complete and all-consuming. I can only hope that publishing this memoir of his death and their time together has managed to effect some healing for her.

  • Jada
    2019-01-07 23:11

    The more I think about this book the more extraordinary I think it is. Aitkenhead writes in a manner as if time slowed down for many months (which I imagine it did) to the point that she can describe every detail around her and in her head, every revelation, every time she witnesses herself seeing or understanding something new. She doesn't hide dark or ugly thoughts that many would judge her for (and many reviewers here seem to do exactly that). I was most intrigued at the times when she reveals her own astonishment at her thoughts and reactions; she being previously unaware that she was capable of feeling or doing this or that. She seems to have a rare capacity to accept something possibly unsavory about herself and then to examine it, try to understand it. I really enjoyed watching her move and grow through complex and difficult feelings. I think her honesty can only serve to comfort people who themselves may be grieving as they read this, and to help others understand the complexity of grieving.

  • Chasity
    2018-12-23 23:10

    2.75 starsI wanted to like this story but I got lost in her grief. I do enjoy reading memoirs so it’s not that I went into this not knowing what to expect per se’. I thought there would be a story and I feel let down that I didn’t get more. I don’t know, maybe if the story had been told in a different order I would have felt more. I feel like starting with the tragedy I didn’t have time to connect with anyone in the story. Had I been given the backstories and such first I think I would have felt more. It is heartbreakingly sad, do not get me wrong. I just had a hard time pushing through the bulk of the book. It is a book solely about grief, a sort of love letter to her husband. I am absolutely positive that this book helped her through a very tough time, it just left me wanting something a little more.

  • Lucylovesreading
    2019-01-12 01:10

    A family is vacationing in Jamaca when tragedy strikes, their four-year-old son paddling peacefully at the waters edge gets sucked out to sea. Decca unsure of what she is seeing can't believe her eyes when she does finally realize that it is her son in the water her spouse Tony swims out to save him as Decca is running to the waters edge and just when she thinks everything is fine she realizes that Tony is struggling to make it back to shore she swims out to retrieve her child managing to swim back to shore she expects to find Tony coming up behind her but as she turns around she realizes he's nowhere to be seen. This is the story of a fathers death and the struggle of those left behind to understand this loss and find the semblance of a new life without him; and how our experiences with grief shape our lives and forever change us.

  • Tucker
    2019-01-15 21:07

    A memoir about the unexpected death of one’s partner and the resultant grief and loss is not an easy book to read. Yet in Decca Aitkenhead’s powerful memoir the reader gains a deeply emotional understanding of the effects of such a loss. Because of Aitkenhead’s journalistic skills she excels in portraying both the intimate details of her family life and the commonalities of those who experience this kind of horrific and totally unanticipated loss. As she contemplates an entirely new and unwelcome future, she also provides a penetrating view of the dailyness of grief and the constantly shifting emotions that occur. Brave, raw, and unforgettable. Thank you to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book

  • Lisa M
    2018-12-20 20:00

    While memoirs are usually not my thing I'm glad I read this one. It hits you right in the feels from the get go. I'm just not sure I felt it through the whole book. I give Decca Aitkenhead props for putting her life out there in a well written book. What a great honor to Tony to share your story. I'm left feeling a little emotionally drained ( which is probably why I don't usually read memoirs)Thank you Goodreads giveaway for an opportunity to review this book. Prayers to allInvolved in this tragedy ....RIP Tony

  • Kim
    2018-12-27 00:02

    Decca Aitkenhead describes herself as the kind of person who has always controlled her feelings to the point where they're difficult to even find. I very much relate to that, but I suspect that may also be what my issue with this book was.All at Sea is written in sentences that are beautiful at times, but the overall story isn't engaging or even interesting. It's at its best when describing the start of her relationship with Tony and his untimely death, but it devolves from there and some parts don't even seem relevant. I'm sorry for her loss, but her account misses the mark for me.

  • Lisa M
    2018-12-20 23:03

    Memoirs are usually not my thing but I'm glad I read this one. It hits you right in the feels from the get go. I'm just not sure I felt it through the whole book. I give Decca Aitkenhead props at putting her story and life out there in a well written book. I feel emotionally drain ( which is probably why I don't read many memoirs). Such a tragedy for all involved but what a beautiful way to honor Tony's memory. Thank you Goodreads giveaway for an opportunity to read and review. Prayers to all involved. RIP Tony