In the Sweep of the Bay


This warm-hearted tale explores marriage, love, and longing, set against the majestic backdrop of Morecambe Bay, the Lakeland Fells, and the faded splendour of the Midland Hotel.

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A tender and moving study of a marriage.

Ted Marshall meets Rene in the dancehalls of Morecambe and they marry during the frail optimism of the 1950s. They adopt the roles expected of man and wife at the time: he the breadwinner at the family ceramics firm, and she the loyal housewife. But as the years go by, they find themselves wishing for more…

After Ted survives a heart attack, both see it as a new beginning.

They forgot the happiness.

Or rather, pushed it away.

But it was there, all their lives,

waiting to surprise them.


"The layers of the story unpeel like an onion, each separate and perfect in its place and time, full of translucent beauty if only you can look at it the right way.

- Clare Rhoden

"A tender and moving study of a marriage."

- Alison Moore, author of the Booker short-listed The Lighthouse

Special Edition Extras

Enjoy these lovely extras while reading Cath Barton's In the Sweep of the Bay.

  • A Playlist for Ted and Madge
    In the book, Madge starts work in the factory as Ted’s assistant in the 1960s.
    They didn’t talk much. Ted liked the quiet, but now and then he’d have an urge to hear some music.
    "Let’s have Music While You Work on, Madge," he’d say...
    ...There was a song they both liked called ‘Bring Me Sunshine’.
  • Untold Stories of Ted and Rene
    Three short stories featuring Ted and Rene:
    • A gift from the girls
    • Unexpected visitors for Christmas
    • The church fete

Why you'll love In the Sweep of the Bay

In the Sweep of the Bay by Cath Barton is a quiet book with some important themes. Nuanced, undramatic and unsentimental, it deals with the oppression of women and how that affects everyone. An account of an ordinary marriage gone stale, a portrait is drawn of lost potential, constrained dreams and limited lives, but with hope that lingers long after you’ve read it.


Beautifully written, In the Sweep of the Bay gives you windows into a conflicted, loving, complicated marriage.

The prose in this book is quietly lovely, unpretentious and very easy reading. It presents a view of a relationship where two people who care about each other still don’t know quite how to connect, which I think is a timeless and universal dilemma, despite the keen sense of both place and time at the heart of this novella.

Laura Liz Buckley

This spoke to my heart on a variety of levels. It made me think of my mother, it made me reflect on just how much society has changed in the past fifty years, it made me melancholy and joyful at the same time. It spoke to the lives of every man and woman with thoughts on hope, love, and disappointments.

A novella, yet it had the heft of a much longer work. Enough heft that I would qualify it as ‘literary fiction’ which speaks to the heart. The characters were very realistically drawn, and the writing was outstanding.


This is a little gem of a book that perfectly captures the small and important moments in everyday lives. Fleeting emotions and lost opportunities, happy coincidences and sudden realisations, words unsaid and thoughts suppressed, a lifetime of quiet love, duty, and the essential spiritual isolation of each individual among many.

Clare Rhoden

News about In the Sweep of the Bay

Ordinary people in a changing world, anchored by loyalty, pride and the inevitability of their place in society.

Photo of Cath Barton

Cath Barton

Cath Barton won the New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella 2017 for The Plankton Collector. Her short stories and flash fiction have been published in anthologies in the UK, the US and Australia, and in journals including The Lonely Crowd, Strix, Fictive Dream, The Cabinet of Heed, After the Pause and Spelk. Born in the English Midlands, she now lives in Abergavenny, South Wales.

Cath's favourite novel is Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and her favourite novella is Animal Farm by George Orwell. Her top poet is U. A. Fanthorpe.

More about Cath Barton

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