The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas
This book won the RNA Joan Hessayon award 2014, which was presented at the RAN summer party I attended. So I had to read it, to see how it shaped up to other novels nominated for that award.
Fiona is jilted at the altar, after the vows but before signing the register. Her groom runs off with his best man. She runs off in the campervan they were supposed to honeymoon in, and finds herself on the west of Ireland, with a torn wedding dress, a crashed campervan, unsuitable shoes and no money. None of that is spoilers by the way - that's all given in a prologue. It's in Dooleybridge, a tired, small Irish town, that the novel begins. Fi finds herself a job helping on an oyster farm, with grumpy Sean Thornton, who has a hidden past of his own. Fi needs to get over her fear of water, accept the past and find herself a new future. And of course, she falls in love along the way...
I very much enjoyed this novel. What an unusual setting and background - I learned a lot about oyster farming along the way. The author clearly did her research! I love the west of Ireland so found myself feeling very much at home in this novel. I caught myself thinking about it whenever I wasn't reading it - and couldn't wait to get back to it each time. A real feel-good story with likeable characters and a wonderful sense of place. A well-deserved winner of the award, and it looks like it's doing very well on the Amazon charts as well.