‘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.
We met with Decca to record 4 Books, a new podcast feature from 4th Estate in which we ask an author to answer 4 questions on the books that made them — that made a significant impact at distinct junctures of their lives. It might be the book that guided them through a break up, the one that they press urgently into a friends’ hand, the book that best articulates love, or the book that opened up the world in a startling new way. Reading has a unique power to universalise the most private of experiences, and the books we turn to can reveal more about ourselves than we think.
In 4 Books, we use literature to glimpse the inner life of our authors.
All At Sea is out now.