A Passionate Life Reclaimed
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The 1998 World Masters champion in the women’s single shell tells how rowing changed her life and her family.

As Hall recounts it, she was the prototypical soccer mom: successful husband, three children, big house. But that house hid an abusive marriage. Although her husband never hit Hall, he regularly denigrated her, isolated her from friends and family, and demanded sex on his schedule (6:30 in the morning). Partly because of the children and partly because she did not recognize what was happening to her as domestic abuse, she remained in the marriage. But one morning in April 1995, the 42-year-old wife and mother had an epiphany. The sight of a lone rower in the waters off Long Island inspired her to find an escape in sculling. She set out on a course that led only three years later to a gold medal at the World Masters Games. Much of this is a description of Hall’s rowing experiences, explaining how she developed a communion with the boat and the water, acknowledging the fierce edge that made her so competitive. In the rest of the text, she reflects on the imbalance of her marriage and the crumbling of her spirit. Naturally, there are no easy answers, maybe no answers at all, when dealing with the subject of a verbally abusive marriage. But Hall has also left out crucial blocks of information. For instance, her husband complains about the cost of her psychotherapy, but she gives no account of that therapy or what it may or may not have taught her. Though some depictions of the competitive life’s rewards are compelling and universal, it’s hard for readers to cheerlead for a sport when so many of its basics have to be explained.

Nevertheless, worthwhile for women struggling to define themselves. (16 pp. photos)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-393-04940-X
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2001