Radio 2 Book Club - Three Women and A Boat

Large three women and a boat 250

The next book to be featured on the Jo Whiley Radio 2 Book Club will be Three Women and A Boat, the new novel by Costa Book Award shortlisted author Anne Youngson. The book will be released on 12 November and Anne will be on the show on Monday 16 November.

We have the chance for you to win 10 copies of this fantastic novel for your reading group! Please enter by Friday 20 November.

Not yet a member of Reading Groups for Everyone? Sign up now.

We have an exclusive extract available for you to read.

Three Women and A Boat

Meet Eve, who has departed from her thirty-year career to become a Free Spirit; Sally, who has waved goodbye to her indifferent husband and two grown-up children; and Anastasia: defiantly independent narrowboat-dweller, suddenly vulnerable as she awaits a life-saving operation.

Inexperienced and ill-equipped, Sally and Eve embark upon a journey through the canals of England, guided by the remote and unsympathetic Anastasia. As they glide gently – and not so gently – through the countryside, the eccentricities and challenges of canalboat life draw them inexorably together, and a tender and unforgettable story unfolds.

Disarmingly truthful and narrated with a rare, surprising wit, Three Women and A Boat is a journey over the glorious waterways of England and into the unfathomable depths of the human heart.

Selection panel review

The book was selected with the help of a panel of library staff from across the UK. Our readers loved Three Women and A Boat – here are some of their comments:

“I loved it; from the three characters to the adventures and people they encountered on their journey. Eve, redundant, alone and wondering what to do next. Sally, pondering separation from her husband and the suffocating effects of a long marriage, that she no longer wished to be a part of. Anastasia, owner of canal boat The Number One and Noah, the dog, facing ill health and a need to get her boat to Chester. I loved how Youngson flung them all together, a heady mix of differing personalities that made you want to read on to discover if they would all get on. Anastasia was their captain, their driving force, with her brusque matter of fact manner, and I liked how her presence was felt from afar by Eve and Sally as they steered The Number One to Chester. It was this combination and the adventure they had en route that forced them both to become quite introspective, to strip away their current lives and find out who they really were and what they wanted. I was impressed with Youngson’s knowledge of canals, canal boats and the many locks The Number One encountered. She brilliantly described the landscape they encountered and the community that existed for those who chose to live this way of life. Three Women and A Boat was what I would call a refreshing read. Yes, it had strong and serious themes, but it also conveyed the delights of going back to basics, of ditching the corporate world and getting out of your comfort zone. It was an easy, delightful read that will be enjoyed by many and I would recommend it.”

“The book is a comforting, joyful and uplifting read. I unexpectedly loved this book; it was the absolute perfect feel good read for these uncertain times. The book follows three women assessing their lives after a certain age. Anastasia lives on a narrow boat and is hilariously brusque, practical and secretive. She has a cancer diagnosis and needs treatment, which means she needs someone to help with her narrowboat and dog whilst in hospital. Sally is leaving behind a nice, if tedious, marriage to Duncan as she doesn’t want to settle to a life plodding along with him and is looking for something more worthwhile. Eve is a career woman; recently retired and finds she has no real meaning in her life. By a series of coincidences, Sally and Eve end up taking Anastasia’s narrowboat along the canal network to be serviced, after having never been on a boat before. Anastasia trusts them also with her beloved dog (a real loveable character) whilst she is in hospital for her cancer treatment. The book is much more intelligent than the light-hearted read it appears. Yes, there are jolly escapades as novice canal boat users, but each woman is given space to breathe and to clarify their thoughts. Absolutely refreshing that there isn’t the cliché of romance to solve any problems for the characters. Each woman is blissfully very much her own person and self-sufficient. The book gives a real sense of life on the canals and I found it a perfect escapist read. I was left wanting to know more about each character and there is certainly scope for further instalments. A wonderful read, just what is needed at present!”

“Three friends meet by chance and form a powerful relationship. Eve has left her high-flying career in a male dominated world. Sally has decided to leave her husband and they meet Anastasia who is fiercely independent but is awaiting a lifesaving operation. The other characters in the book are Anastasia’s narrow boat, which needs some repairs, and Anastasia’s dog – who definitely has a mind of his own. Anastasia asks her new friends for a favour – to sail her narrow boat on the canals of England for repair. The tales of the narrowboat dwellers and the challenges that this slower pace of life brings humour, tenderness and a story that stays with you.”

About the author

Small anne youngson 300

Anne Youngson lives in Oxfordshire, is married and has two children and two grandchildren to date. Meet Me at the Museum, her debut novel, was shortlisted for the Costa Best First Novel Award and won the inaugural Paul Torday prize for debut fiction by writers over sixty.

Anne became a published writer in her seventies after many years of a hugely successful other career in senior management in the UK car industry. She undertook a writing course at Oxford Brookes University and Meet Me at the Museum emerged from those studies. She has supported many charities in governance roles, including Chair of the Writers in Prison Network, which provides residencies in prisons for writers. She has travelled the UK extensively at events and festivals talking about her novel writing.

A word from Anne

“I could not be more delighted that Three Women and A Boat has been chosen for the Radio 2 Book Club. I write to cheer myself up. Not by pretending everything is all for the best in the best of all possible worlds, but by making sense of the hard knocks and hard choices in life and being positive about the potential for change. So, I am especially pleased the book has been picked at the end of such a difficult year.

I am also a fan of libraries. A group of us has had to band together, in the small community where I live, to volunteer and raise funds to keep our library open, because we knew we would be culturally and socially poorer without it. The work that Reading Groups for Everyone does to curate a gallery of reading opportunities for every sort of reader is to be applauded. Now more than ever we need to share the books we love with other people who love books.”

Get involved

Tune in to Jo Whiley’s show on Monday 16 November to hear a live interview with Anne.

Have you read Three Women and A Boat? You can share your thoughts with us on Twitter using #R2BookClub.

Planning to buy Three Women and A Boat for your group? Buy books from Hive and support The Reading Agency and local bookshops at no extra cost to you.

Want to make sure you get the latest news? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

You can join the Radio 2 Book Club Facebook group, and also follow Jo Whiley on Twitter.


Log in or Sign up to add a comment


Keeping your reading group active while social distancing

Are you wondering how your reading group can continue to meet, even while you’re social distancing? With many people at home with family, flatmates or on their own, we know that books are so important to provide comfort, solace and escapism. Staying socially connected, and keeping your regular reading group meetings in your diary, is going to be very important in keeping up morale and supporting everyone’s mental health as we adjust to a new way of living.

Medium screenshot 2020 03 27 at 12.24.50

How to start a reading group

Interested in joining a reading group or starting one of your own? Download our quick guide to getting started.

Thumb reading between the wines with books  2

Hive and The Reading Agency

The Reading Agency loves books, in every form, and we know you do too. We love it when people borrow books in every format from their brilliant local libraries. We love it when reading groups get exclusive free proofs from our publisher partners. We love it when readers pick up a pre-loved book from a second-hand bookshop for a song. And we also love it when you buy yourself or someone else a brand new book from a high street bookshop. We also know that buying online is quick and convenient...

Medium hive