Lifesaving For Beginners – Josie Lloyd

Published By: HQ
Pages: 416
Released On: 21/07/2022

Maddy Wolfe’s life has just capsized After her twenty-year marriage suddenly implodes, she heads to Brighton to search for her estranged son, Jamie. But he’s nowhere to be found and for the first time, she’s totally alone. That is, until she meets the Salty Sea-Gals, a group of feisty sea-swimmers.

Seventy-two-year old Helga is determined not to slow down, while thirty-something Tor is still figuring out who she is. Bereaved Dominica is trying to find a reason to carry on, and busy mum Claire is learning to put herself first for a change.

As their regular cold-water plunges become a lifeline for them all, Maddy starts to realise that these brave women might just help her find both Jamie and herself. Together, they’ll turn the tide.


*Contains plot and character spoilers*

Thanks to NetGalley and HQ for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

The Cancer Ladies’ Running Club was one of my favourite books of 2021; serious but uplifting and entertaining and I definitely expected the same with this book – and I got it.

I often struggle when there’s multiple character POVs and as expected, I did struggle to begin with here, figuring out who was who and who they related to, but that’s a personal thing. But within a few chapters my head was able to ease into it and it wasn’t much of a problem. I think what helped was they were all such different personalities with different stories and motivations so I could keep them separate, but then you had the sea swimming as the glue to hold them all together.

Personally I am not a fan of having covid and lockdowns in fiction books as I’m fed up enough with it in real life, but Josie hit a nice balance, she didn’t make it in your face or an overarching plot point, it was just in the background which I definitely preferred.

There are five main characters and a cast list of many secondary characters. Our main story revolves around Helga, Claire, Dominica, Maddy and Tor.

Helga: is an elderly lady living by herself, with health problems but a strong will, doesn’t take to fools.

Claire: a wife and mother who feels she is becoming invisible, only good for cleaning and cooking.

Dominica: newly bereaved after losing her husband, trying to figure out her place in the world and what her future means now.

Maddy: splits from her husband and travels to Brighton trying to find her son who walked out of the family home.

Tor: a young woman who is dedicated to charity and helping others, struggling with admitting her sexuality to her family.

There’s a lot to swallow there. Lots of sensitive subjects, but somehow, Josie has managed to balance them all. She’s given them all time to shine, time to grow, come to terms with them, and she’s made sure that everything is realistically dealt with by the end. Then you have the secondary characters of Jamie, Alice, Pim, Linus amongst many others. They make a community out of the story and it’s a really friendly community, one I’d be happy to be a part of.

What made me laugh is when I told my mum the basic premise and themes (adultery, divorce, homelessness etc) she sarcastically said, “oh, uplifting stuff then?” And at first glance, you’d be inclined to agree with her. But that’s the thing about Josie’s books (or at least the ones I’ve read) it’s tough on the surface but amongst it all is joy and it is definitely uplifting.

I admit, I do not like Brighton and so I couldn’t identify with all the praise the location was getting in the book. And I’m also frightened of the sea and open water, but the joy of open water swimming, especially in the dark depths of winter, just leaps off the page in such a sparkling way.

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