Canvey Island

Written by James Runcie
Review by Helene Williams


On 31 January 1953 Martin’s father, Len, and Auntie Vi are dancing at the local hop. Back home Martin and his mother are fighting for their lives against the sudden flood that demolishes their bungalow. They are separated by the current, and young Martin never sees his mother alive again.

The events of that night and the continuing story are related from the viewpoint of each of the characters in turn. This adds an immediacy to the drama as it unfolds, as well as an intimate insight into each individual’s personality. Against a backdrop of historical events, from the Canvey Island floods to Churchill’s funeral, the protestors at Greenham Common and the dawn of Thatcher’s England each of the characters’ lives unfold.

It is a series of interwoven stories about ordinary people coping with tragedy and loss, growing up and growing old, love, loss and restitution. They are as real as the events that shape their lives.