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Sailing Down the Moonbeam Paperback – July 1, 2008
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The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Raised and educated in the Midwest, Mary moved to New York City to build a career. Fifteen years later, with two house, two cars and more frequent flier miles than she could ever use, she and her husband Tom found themselves increasingly dissatisfied with conventional measures of success. Since leaving New York on a sailboat in 1985, she has lived and/or worked as a financial consultant in Panama, New Zealand, Australia, Europe and Mexico. Along the way, she backpacked through Asia and the Middle East. She now makes her home in Des Moines, Iowa where she works as a financial consultant and increasingly focuses her professional energies on assisting nonprofit agencies that serve the homeless and the mentally ill. Her first novel is well underway.
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Top Customer Reviews
As a reader, I was instantly impressed and amazed that anyone could even consider something like this. Five years is a long time and the Pacific Ocean a pretty huge place. Yet, as the story unfolds you are drawn into the world of people like Mary and Tom who set sail, anchor at ports of call and form their own social alliances, based in a shared philosophy of living a life outside the box; on a quest for beauty and magic on near-deserted islands and in moonbeams across the water.
We learn early on that Mary is smart, educated and is prone to depression. She has a no-holds barred honesty in admitting her naivete, as well as her denial, that her marriage is seriously in trouble and that she depends too much on her outgoing husband. Still, the reader wonders, why would a woman as intelligent as she stay with a man who verablly abuses her, let alone sail the world with him where he becomes her sole companion and social support for weeks on end? It is to the writer's credit that she offers no pat answers, only a portrait of her own desperate desire to make her marriage work.
The writing is often lyrical . . ."I often find myself in a mystical space, a cosmic place of absolute silence and serenity from which I peer down on the tiny speck that is Salieri making her way across the ocean," Gottschalk writes. Unfortunately, dreams of serenity and finding romance in the wanderlust life, collide with the reality of verbal abuse, betrayal and ultimately infidelity. Finally, the author learns that indeed this voyage has been more than visiting exotic locales, but a journey into her own heart and soul . . . of truly sailing down life's "moonbeam." Bravo to Gottschalk for writing such a brave and beautiful memoir.
Breezily written - perhaps an unexamined life isn't worth writing about, but this memoir is of a well-lived and well-examined life.
I'm no sailor, but you don't need to be to enjoy this book. If Hollywood wants to make a movie for grownups, it should snap up the rights to this book.
Well written, with only a few minor initial formatting issues that don't persist (and one repeated paragraph).
Mary and Tom decide to set sail from New York City for five years. Idealistic, romantic, and downright scared at times, they do what many of us only talk about doing if we won the lottery. When I told my husband the basic premise of the book, he asked, "Are they still married?" I told him he'd have to read the book to find out the answer. Mary states in the beginning that the stats for couples enduring life on long cruises is "not encouraging."
Thankfully, Mary kept a journal of the journey, which eventually she turned into this memoir. Let her example be a lesson to all authors or those interested in writing a memoir of events in the past: Write in a journal just to keep track of all the details that will fade from our minds but not from the page. Her descriptive details of the sea and its living world are precise and graphic, which creates word photos for the reader. Here's one description of her view as they left Boot Key.
"As we made our last trip out through the lush mangrove-lined channel, Tom had the helm, his even more faded orange-and-yellow hat shielding his balding head from the blazing Florida sun. Manatees cavorted among the roots of the trees. Pelicans sat stolidly on the wooden pilings, waiting for the right moment to pluck lunch from the water. Raucous frigate birds were everywhere, flying madly about, hitting the water like torpedoes when they saw fish. Through it all, white ibis stood by like pieces of sculpture, regally taking it all in."
Without her journal notes, these literary and literal images would be impossible to recall after more than a two-decade gap in the experience and the publishing of her memoir.
Equally descriptive is Mary's examination of her marriage with Tom. The relationship rides the continual waves of emotion as two people learn to live and function in a cabin on a 37-foot sailboat. Mary touches on many truisms of marriages, and I felt myself nodding my head often while reading the book. Miscommunication (or no communication), different agendas, and competitive spirits collide during the sea trip. Sometimes it was painful to look so closely into the intimate portrait - only because it reminded me of my first marriage that ended in divorce after twenty-six years. So many hurts, disappointments, and infractions build up over the years until they stifle the partners or explode the relationship into tiny pieces of shrapnel.
The emotion I felt during the reading this book is a tribute to Gottschalk's honesty, descriptive portraits of people and place, and an immaculate writing style.
I recommend Sailing Down the Moonbeam, even you don't sail. I don't sail, but I sure loved living vicariously for a short while. I asked the author about her record keeping, and she assured me she didn't use everything in this book. Good news - perhaps she'll write more on sailing the seas, both literally and figuratively.