It's heavy weather--both meteorologic and emotional--pretty much all the way for Bird on her trans-Atlantic,...


SONNET: One Woman's Voyage from Maryland to Greece

It's heavy weather--both meteorologic and emotional--pretty much all the way for Bird on her trans-Atlantic, trans-Mediterranean sail, but the writing goes very smoothly. When Bird, who has written for Sail, Sailing, and other magazines, shoves off into the Chesapeake, it's hurricane season; before long the first squall, a terrifying wall of black, bats her around. But she knows from sailboats: Twice before, she had made solo long-distance hauls; seven times she had crossed the Atlantic. This was the singlehanded leg of her trip to Greece; just her and her 42-foot boat, Sonnet, and her self-steering wind vane (""like a cognizant creature, a second crew member"") until the Azores. Much of this book comes as a series of journal entries, jottings of anything that trundles through her mind, making for some odd juxtapositions: ""living in nothing but underwear"" mingles with ""fixed the leech cord on the jib."" Bird plays the nautical lexicon as if it were a stringed instrument, merrily jibing and trimming and reefing her way east, at one point teetering herself to the bow as the boat zipped along in the company of dolphins, literally soaking herself in their world. In the Azores she must make the transition to sailing with a companion, but she's too judgmental, snippy, and moody for it to go well. Visiting with her expatriate folks in Spain is dreadful: Dad has the dwindles, Mom's killing herself with liquor. Anguish and anger bubble under Bird's surface, frequently erupting. More women crew for her in the Mediterranean, creating a guarded, fiercely female world with enough energy to generate its own tempestuous weather system. Except when Bird lapses into New Age bunkum--""My animal within is the contrary Antelope""--she writes of the journey with brio and dash. Five thousand stormy miles, and worth most every minute of it, for Bird and for her readers.

Pub Date: May 1, 1997


Page Count: 256

Publisher: "North Point/Farrar, Straus & Giroux"

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997