When she was in her forties, recovering from depression and alcoholism, Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis decided to trade in her landlubber existence -- a house in Cardiff, Wales, and a responsible job at the BBC -- for life aboard a small yacht with her husband, Leighton, a former bosun with the Merchant Navy and now in his midsixties.
After buying a yacht -- Jameeleh -- and teaching themselves to sail it (a process not without its fair share of disasters, from psychotic seas off St. Govan's Head to a battle with buoys off Ballycotton), Gwyneth and Leighton set out to cross the Atlantic. But Gwyneth's seasickness and Leighton's daily deterioration into Captain Bligh were not the only catastrophes they had to contend with. This strange, stirring, and often hilarious account of their voyage is as much a beginner's guide to sailing as it is a portrait of a marriage under pressure.
Gwyneth Lewis's training, as a poet and a filmmaker, lends her prose a wonderfully visual quality, and her contagious optimism in the face of inconceivable adversity makes this unique memoir both witty and wise.
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Gwyneth Lewis is the National Poet of Wales whose work has drawn widespread acclaim. She was named one of the Next Generation British Poets in 2004. She is the author of six collections of poetry and a prose book, Sunbathing in the Rain: A Cheerful Book on Depression. She lives in Cardiff, Wales.From Publishers Weekly:
In a charming memoir with as much turmoil as a rough sea, Lewis recounts her attempt to morph from a "messy depressive, often overwhelmed by my own emotions" to someone "unbowed by internal or external storms." After emerging from a year of clinical depression, Lewis, a Welsh poet, visited a tarot card reader, who told her she wasn't living life "to the full," and advised her, "you should buy a boat." In less than a month, Lewis, in her 40s, and her husband, 23 years her senior and formerly in the merchant navy, bought a boat and prepared to leave their home and jobs in Cardiff (a port on the Bristol Channel) to embark on a lengthy voyage. Excited by the idea of a change in scenery, the two set off for Brazil. The trip, naturally, wasn't easy: debilitating seasickness, engine problems, unscrupulous mechanics, a resurgence of Lewis's depression, not-so-scenic ports of call and extreme weather conditions were all exacerbated by their deteriorating relationship. Lewis leans on allegory, which can wear thin, but her poetic talent shines through with lines like "Cold air French kisses the warm, which loses its identity for it." Photos., illus. (Apr. 1)
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