Between sunny shores and the deep blue sea

If you aren't already acquainted with the works of Australian author Tim Winton, this summer is the perfect opportunity to dip into them.

The prolific author of adult and children's fiction and non-fiction lives in Fremantle, and many of his novels and short stories are set in Western Australia. He is a master of place, which is so vividly evoked it almost becomes a character in its own right. The sea and sand of his coastal settings make for perfect summer reading, but be warned, darkness often lurks beneath the surface.

Winton's characters - he writes equally convincingly about and from the perspective of males and females - are flawed; often hiding, or running from, secrets or tragedies in the past, and struggling with love and loss, grief and guilt, and attempts at happiness and redemption.

An environmentalist, his love of the sea is obvious in the characters he creates, often surfers and fishermen.

His language is poetic, his imagery sublime, but his prose is never pretentious. Cloudstreet is one of his most popular novels and is highly readable. I would also recommend Dirt Music as one of the most compelling novels I have ever read. His most recent novel Breath goes to very dark places in the human soul, but also manages to capture beauty in his descriptions of place and in the bonds of male camaraderie.

In short, find some sun, sea and sand to immerse yourself in the scene, and start reading!

- Helen Speirs