All at Sea
By Decca Aitkenhead
Nan A. Talese

A whiff of dishonesty often permeates claims by some authors that their books are for themselves. But when Decca Aitkenhead says she has written All at Sea to remember, you believe her. Her memoir centres on the death of her partner, Tony Wilkinson, who drowned while rescuing their son during a holiday. Aitkenhead had entered the water when she saw both struggling, but managed to save only the boy and herself. Readers will feel almost as though they should not be privy to the slow-motion thoughts that went through her mind at the time of the accident, including embarrassment at causing a scene and an unjustified certainty that all would be fine. Then there was her mortifying response to an offer of assistance from two wealthy strangers touched by her story. Stoned at the time, she suggested that help would be appreciated in monetary form. Aitkenhead’s background in journalism shows in the clarity of her writing and muckraking skills. That extends to the man she lost, a West Indian former crack addict who sold cocaine for a living. Aitkenhead says she cares little whether readers remember her story. Like it or not, they will.