NORTH ATLANTIC ODYSSEY: Sailing to the Arctic Circle by Robert S. Gould

NORTH ATLANTIC ODYSSEY: Sailing to the Arctic Circle

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A mundane account that succeeds mostly in whetting our appetite for the story it might have been but isn't. A physician leads his family across the Atlantic by sailboat. For him, it's the final step in a 20-year process of learning to sail, and a test of his skills, leadership, and self-reliance. For his wife, a manager at Xerox, it's a game effort to ""concentrate on the terrors,"" and master the sea on her own terms. For son Peter, 17, daughter Elizabeth, 15, and son John, 10, it's a not entirely welcome rite of passage. If this sounds like Family Ties on the bounding main, in practice there is only one character whose moods, goals, fears, and character come alive consistently: the father--skipper, physician, and author. But that's not as bad as it sounds. Gould gives his account of learning to sail offshore the full treatment, and succeeds in explaining its fascinations and dangers. To ensure that his isn't the only voice recording the voyage, he uses back-and-forth family reminiscences of the 1982 voyage, which included a cruise of Norway. But this device seems unintegrated, added on, and the work as a whole is only fitfully compelling. A voyage at sea is often used as a metaphor for personal growth and change, but here the few changes registered by this family are too inconsequential to make for rewarding reading.

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 1989
Publisher: St. Martin's