THE DISTANT SHORE by Jan de Hartog
Kirkus Star

THE DISTANT SHORE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Bracket this with The Mu, and The Cruel Sea, though it does not quite reach the stature of either, it approaches their measure, and may well command much of their market. A story told in the first person, it portrays a novel and unhackneyed facet of the war of the Atlantic, an experienced by those who manned the rescue tugs, sent, unarmed, to bring back the ""lame ducks"" left behind their convoys. A perilous life, measured in expectancy of perhaps three months; the days on shore were inevitably pitched in a tense key. Newly made Captain after ten years away from the sea, ""Skipper"" was lately a refugee from occupied Holland, and assigned to the service his people had undertaken -- uncertain of his capacity, lonely, afraid. Then ""Dop"", shipmate of years back, turns out to be his alternate, and Dop's girl, Stelia, takes him on as a charge under her wing. The life at sea, open to attack by the German wolf pack, working at incredible stretches of time without rest, knowing that they are targets incessantly; then -- on shore- the violence of reaction, the recurrent shock of death of pals, the need for women -- a grim pattern. The Atlantic ordeal is followed by the northern passage, invasion, and finally -- for Skipper -- a ship going down under him, and rescue by ""Goatskin"", hospitalization --and another girl, this time a Scottish nurse. With the war's end, everything falls apart -- attempt to reestablish contact with surviving shipmates is disillusioning, jobs are scarce. But Goatskin comes up with a shady bit of adventure, deep dea diving for black market tires -- and then a venture in Greek waters which almost costs him his life. The hold of the sea, their first love and last, is stronger than ever. But it doesn't supply a livelihood. Then a long gamble in another rescue job with a war relic and a crew of men who had served in the same branch of service and again failure, but the ultimate fruit of victory over himself. It is a gripping story, uneven in the telling, but exciting and holding reading -- another tale of man against the sea.

Pub Date: May 7th, 1952
Publisher: Harper