“Secret Daughter” by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

       This is an engaging story spanning 20 years about a girl, Asha, who was brought to an orphanage in India by her mother when she was three days old.  This sad deed was a desperate and courageous move to save Asha’s life from certain infanticide by Asha’s father’s family.

Asha was fortunate, she was adopted as a one year old by a young couple who very much wanted a child to love.  Her adoptive parents were physicians, living in the United States. The man was a native of India, and had extended family there.  His wife, Asha’s adoptive mother, was an American.   They returned to United States with Asha, and she was raised as an American.

At age 20 Asha goes to India on a scholarship to work at a newspaper in Mumbai.  While there she stays with her father’s parents, and gets to meet her extended family on his side, most notably her grandmother.  She is warmly welcomed into the family fold, despite the fact that her adoptive mother had not revisited India with Asha in the intervening years since the adoption.

Asha sets out on her career as a journalist and, we see, learning about her heritage.  She also wants to find out more about her birth mother….

 Each chapter in this book is told from the perspective of one of the characters, the birth mother, the adoptive mother, and Asha herself being the predominant voices.

I found that I really began to enjoy this book once Asha went to Mumbai.  The author invests more into settings, and plot development it seems once this has occurred, and it does draw you in to a great  family story from this point on.

Life lesson:  A mother’s love and caring is one of the greatest gifts of life.

Where I got it:  From Sandy.

Published by: William Morrow, An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Year Published: 2010

“Vagabonding” by Rolf Potts

This was a book that I found in my sister Pat’s bookcase.  The subtitle reads: “An uncommon guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel”.  

A good, practical book,  sprinkled throughout with appropriate and inspiring quotes from notable historic and current-day travelers (aka vagabonders).  It works well as a sit down read, or as a resource for travel tips and advice.  It is also a book that can redefine personal values.  “On the road, you learn to improvise your days, take a second look at everything you see, and not obsess over your schedule.”  i.e. slow down and see the World you are in.

What I got from this book:  A new way of viewing travel.  My view was that I would love to travel to places that I have heard about that sound intriguingly different from home.  Now, I think it will be more about learning from the people I may meet, and  keeping moving in the world. Travel, as a natural expression of the desire for personal growth and greater understanding.

Recommend:  Highly recommend.

Publisher: Villard, New York

Year Published: 2003

“Round the World With Ridgway” by John and Marie Christine Ridgway

.“Round the World With Ridgway” is a true account by the authors of their entry in the Whitbread Round the World Race in August 1977 to April 1978.   This is a riveting book for anyone, not just for sailors.  The authors are very open about their own strengths and weaknesses, and about the many joys and frustrations that living with a crew ” in a 57 foot tube” for over 8 months presents.  The journey was made in 4 legs, with stops at Cape Town, Auckland, and Rio.

John and Marie Ridgway are accomplished, engaging authors.  John, especially in his entry for Day 23, Leg 3 – Auckland to Rio:  Entitled “Night Watch”.  Read that entry if nothing else, it will take you there.

The format for this book is primarily from daily entries by each of the authors.   As John noted in the section Some thoughts in retrospect:  “Marie Christine and I have written this book as we went along, neither reading the other’s material.  I hope we have captured the passions of the moment; it seemed more honest than writing with hindsight.  the reader will be able to see the mistakes I made.  There were plenty of them.”  In addition to themselves they had an interesting assemblage of personalities in their crew, many of whom were gathered from the current instructors, or prospectives instructors in their School of Adventure.

What I got from reading the book: A bad case of wanderlust, I’m afraid.  One too many literary trips around Cape Horn for me of late.  Also, a respect for the power of group dynamics, leadership, teamwork, dreaming big dreams and making them happen!

Recommend:  Highly recommend.

Where I got it:  On loan, from Doug, Charlie’s brother.

Publisher:  Holt, Rinehart and Winston.                                                                                   Year Published:  1978

“Almost French”, by Sarah Turnbull

Almost French  Sarah Turnbull has welcomed us into her Parisian loft, and shared her wonderful true story of finding new love,  and a new career, in a very old, and very captivating piece of this world.

In 1994, one of my sisters,(I have five), was in France on a sabbatical year.  I remember one evening as I was going to bed I glanced at the books that I had on my bedside table.  They were “A Movable Feast”, by Ernest Hemmingway; “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens; and “Gibran in Paris”, by Yusuf Huwayyik, translated by Matti Mossa.  When I mentioned this the next day to another of my sisters,we took it as a sign, and resolved to get ourselves to Paris to visit our sister there.

We were so glad that we did, we loved the city.  In “Almost French”, Sarah Turnbull expresses very, very well just how and why Paris does this to those who visit, like us, and those that choose to stay, like her.  There is a tremendous amount of wit and wisdom woven into her struggles to understand the culture that she had married into.  Towards the end of her book, after all the perplexities, and aha moments of insight, she sums up the attitude that seems to help her make living in Paris work:  “It is probably something I’ve learned in France, this being less anxious to please.  While there’s a great deal of wisdom in the “When in Rome..” maxim, I don’t think respecting a different culture means you have to follow all the rules. Some, yes, but not all.”

What I will take away from this book (what it teaches me) is that life takes pluck.  She demonstrated true doggedness as she strove to create her career in journalism.  It was not easy, but she had an integral understanding that these things are worth the continued effort.  She is a true expert in doing everything she can to keep her spirits up. (I smiled at the declaration that rejection letters became trophies of sorts, at least there was a recognition she existed.)  Her life is  a success because of this trait.  Her tremendous capacity to see and draw out humor from the characters and situations  in which she found herself has made the sharing of these portions of her life a fun, poignant, and enlightening read.

Highly recommended.

Where I got it:  From my sister Pat.  (The one that was in France).                               Publisher:  Gotham Books                                                                                                                       Year Published:  2002

“Harvest”, by Belva Plain

My first Belva Plain book was found in a used book rack which is a feature in a country restaurant/ convenience store in Beaver Cove, Cape Breton. I had found that first book was perfect for days spent at our cabin, which is in that area. It was, to my mind, a “ladies” book. One in which the author mulls about such things as relationships, duty, taste, and the unexpected ways families will evolve through the times.
“Harvest” is more of the same, which is what one looks for when sitting down to a Belva Plain novel. Setting is mostly New York. It does give a good sense of neighbourhood(s). She is an very observant people watcher, and her characters, which are drawn out with careful detail, have a staying power long after her books are set down.  Almost as though, they have become our neighbours, our friends.

Where I got it: In Vincent and Sandy’s box of “give away books”.
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Date Published: September, 1990

The Mooneshine Logs by Francis Stokes

Welcome to my brand new, and first ever, blog!  I’m excited to be here, and I do hope you will enjoy your visit.

  • The Mooneshine logs by Francis Stokes is my current read.  Our neighbour kindly brought over a few books he had all whose themes were great sailing trips.  Joshua Slocum’s book,” Sailing Alone around the World” was a treasure to have and read.  Then “The Mooneshine Logs”, now we are on a roll, and as I come near the end of this book, I am casting around for the next book in the theme.  It will be “Round the World with Ridgeway.”
  • Mooneshine Logs has stepped up to the quality of tone that Joshua Slocum achieves. Genuine , self-effacing honesty skillfully blended with the delight of remarkable achievement. Francis Stokes is a happy sailor, and to be his guest by virtue of access to this book, is a pleasure.   His boats, and his trips grow by degrees, the book culminating in a round the world race in 1980.  From his logs we learn a little of the level of effort involved in such a trip, however, there is plenty of time for relaxing and reading between checks on deck, and adjusting sails.
  • Largely, such books strike me as a grand exercise in discovering the self, and learning about our planet.  We know, as the creatures of routine and comfort that we usually are, that those that do strike out on such journeys are admirable practitioners of the grand art of living.  Their words support this theory.