The beauty of long-distance ocean travel is that you climb on board, unpack your things and stay in one place while the ship does all the traveling for you. “And then what?” your friends ask. Forty-nine days of empty ocean look like a long time, but in these engaging “letters home” about the characters on board, the ports exotic and dull, the workings of the ship itself, and the endless, sibilant sea – the voice of the interior journey began to assert itself. Who knew where it would go? Readers say the result is a slow boat to everywhere they want a book to take them.
“Homer (The Magnificent Dr. Wao) inspires readers with this chronicle of a 49-day "voyage of exploration" she took through the South Pacific--from the Panama Canal to Tahiti, Fiji, New Caledonia, Australia, and New Zealand--as a passenger aboard a cargo ship. Homer embarks on her journey for a number of reasons: to experience again "the joy of being afloat in the vast, undefined watery spaces" that she first felt as a child on her father's boat; to find some sort of "magic" that would wipe out troubles both physical (arthritis) and mental (doubts about her long-time marriage); and, while seeing other countries, to experience what a friend tells her: "Keep looking inward and see what the moment has to teach you." What she discovers—and artfully describes--are the joys and hardships of life on a working ship ("A freighter is a noisy, dirty, smelly beast"), the beauty of the high seas ("With little warning, the red blob of sun oozed forth from the primordial soup, then slowly backlit the clouds above it, first in mauve, then rose, then gold"), and the strength she finds to go back to her daily life renewed, with a new appreciation for the "someone who has always been inside me but has been ignored for too long."
-- Publishers Weekly’s BookLife
“Debut author Homer chronicles her “experiences traveling via cargo freighter. Homer's first book is an adventure story--the journal of her 49-day trip through the South Pacific as a passenger on the Louise, a cargo freighter. The author hates flying, and had no interest in a cruise ship's gorging and gambling, so she decided, why not rough it? From Costa Rica to Australia and back, by way of Tahiti, Fiji, New Caledonia, and New Zealand, the Louise churned its 45,000 tons (cargo and author included) into the "open-ended silence of the sea." Its passenger comes away with plenty of good stories to share along with "a decidedly unromantic view of the life of a seaman." In Fiji, Homer missed out on seeing Raymond Burr's orchids but did visit a pricey resort with "a man-made island in the shape of a giant footprint." In former colonial islands, she discovered to her chagrin that "the French seem always to be French, no matter where they are." The glorious and the grim are each delineated in detail, from the "foreign country of constellations in the sky" to the constant awareness that "a freighter is a noisy, dirty, smelly beast." The aches and pains of travel are here in full measure: the cold of the ship, the pangs of arthritis in her knees, and the limbs barked against listing furniture. Because much of the journal comprises minimally edited diary entries and letters to friends, the reading experience can be choppy, especially since past and present tense mingle freely. But because of the immediacy of the reporting, Homer's character--questing, worrying, laughing--comes across with terrific clarity. We come to know her well, or feel as though we do, and the curious world of cargo ports and the crews that visit them become even more intriguing through her eyes. A detailed, rare, and rewarding ride over a watery part of the world.”
-- Kirkus Reviews
"I am in the middle of reading this book and am enjoying it thoroughly. As a married woman and an experienced solo freighter traveler myself, I can relate to the author's excitement and trepidation as she sets off on her first freighter trip. I am finding her narrative to be believable and true to my experiences so far. It is also a well-written book - something not always true of privately published books - and is full of interesting details about the amazing ships that carry the world's goods from place to place. If you've always wondered what it would be like to sail off into the great blue yonder on a large ship where the décor and amenities are not designed to try to make you forget that you are at sea, where the ports of call are not the reason for the trip, and where the stresses and noise of daily life can be left behind in a way almost impossible by any other form of travel, you might enjoy this book!"
"It was a very entertaining read in many ways: a great character study, and also a personal exploration, all mixed with interesting facts about the sea, and sea travel in a humungous vessel. I would have loved to have seen the engine room, bridge and of course the Sydney Opera House and pretty much everywhere else she went . . . . It is really fascinating to hear about how these ships manage out in the open sea. There are so many factors that can affect optimal travel or not; from loading the ship with sea water when running a light cargo, to avoiding weather patterns, to taking a curved route, all interesting facts that make the reading that much more worthwhile. Superb! I hope she takes more trips for her benefit and ours."
"This is my kind of book. It reads at a comfortable pace with wonderful attention paid to the ever different sky and ocean. The author lucked out getting on a ship with interesting crew members or maybe she was just curious enough to bring out the best of their personalities. I was reading several books at a time and found I wanted to pick this one up first. A sign of a pleasurable read. Thanks."