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The Curve of Time: The Classic Memoir of a Woman and Her Children Who Explored the Coastal Waters of the Pacific Northwest

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This is the fascinating true adventure story of a woman who packed her five children onto a twenty-five-foot boat and explored the coastal waters of British Columbia summer after summer in the 1920's and 1930's.


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This is the fascinating true adventure story of a woman who packed her five children onto a twenty-five-foot boat and explored the coastal waters of British Columbia summer after summer in the 1920's and 1930's.

30 review for The Curve of Time: The Classic Memoir of a Woman and Her Children Who Explored the Coastal Waters of the Pacific Northwest

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    I really, really wanted to like this book more. The title is so alluring, and the fact that it's a memoir about a widowed woman and her five children sailing alone over a series of summers in British Columbia in the late 1920s-early 1930s is fascinating. The book leaves an impression of place and time and wonder, and it's rich with the geography, anthropology, and natural history of the Pacific Northwest. But it's a bit dense and so...impersonal! I remember thinking halfway through the book that I really, really wanted to like this book more. The title is so alluring, and the fact that it's a memoir about a widowed woman and her five children sailing alone over a series of summers in British Columbia in the late 1920s-early 1930s is fascinating. The book leaves an impression of place and time and wonder, and it's rich with the geography, anthropology, and natural history of the Pacific Northwest. But it's a bit dense and so...impersonal! I remember thinking halfway through the book that I only knew the names of 3 of her children. I would have liked to get to know the author better--her life, her husband's death (he disappeared one day and their boat was found unmanned), etc.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    I love this book. It has inspired me, not to sail with my kids, but to face hard times with courage and imagination.

  3. 5 out of 5

    John

    A bit of history, a bit of philosophy, a bit of adventure. This book was highly recommended to me by a friend who has cruised the Inside Passage and explored the islets of British Columbia and Alaska for the past 15 years. Many beautiful places are vividly described by Ms.'Capi' Blanchet. The lasting impression is the feeling of having spent time as a companion to the author and her children as they experience the adventure of travel and exploration as they cruise far from home in their small boa A bit of history, a bit of philosophy, a bit of adventure. This book was highly recommended to me by a friend who has cruised the Inside Passage and explored the islets of British Columbia and Alaska for the past 15 years. Many beautiful places are vividly described by Ms.'Capi' Blanchet. The lasting impression is the feeling of having spent time as a companion to the author and her children as they experience the adventure of travel and exploration as they cruise far from home in their small boat, in the 1930's. I enjoyed meeting unique people like 'Mike' - the knowledgeable recluse who expresses much of what must be the authors own philosopy of life. Altogether this little book is a bit of history, a bit of philosophy, and a bit of adventure. I didn't want it to end.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mary Crabtree

    You do not have to be nautically inclined to appreciate the true story of M. Wylie Blanchet and how she set off every summer with her dog and her five children on a 26 foot motor boat in the 30's. This is a book I will read again and again. Her bravery and sense of adventure is completely inspiring. It reads like a diary so you truly feel like you are along for the ride!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette (Again)

    I do so wish I had written a review of this after I read it. I'll have to get it from the library again someday. I loved this part about the "Little House" they lived in: "When we first lived there, the big firs and balsams grew very close to the house. So close that they could lean across and whisper to each other at night. Sometimes they would keep you awake and you would forget and say sharply, 'Hush, trees, go to sleep!' At first there would be an astonished silence...then a rush of low laug I do so wish I had written a review of this after I read it. I'll have to get it from the library again someday. I loved this part about the "Little House" they lived in: "When we first lived there, the big firs and balsams grew very close to the house. So close that they could lean across and whisper to each other at night. Sometimes they would keep you awake and you would forget and say sharply, 'Hush, trees, go to sleep!' At first there would be an astonished silence...then a rush of low laughter...and they would whisper louder than ever, until you had to put your head under the blankets."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    These stories are remarkable. Blanchet was widowed in her thirties when her husband took their boat out and never returned; they were able to recover the boat but not his body. She and their five children embraced the boat anyway and took to it every summer, exploring the Pacific Northwest coast alone. Blanchet is given to casual statements like, "The kids and I didn't mention that we were about to scale 2500 feet to reach the blueberry patch because we didn't want [well-meaning male homesteader These stories are remarkable. Blanchet was widowed in her thirties when her husband took their boat out and never returned; they were able to recover the boat but not his body. She and their five children embraced the boat anyway and took to it every summer, exploring the Pacific Northwest coast alone. Blanchet is given to casual statements like, "The kids and I didn't mention that we were about to scale 2500 feet to reach the blueberry patch because we didn't want [well-meaning male homesteader] to worry about it." She tells of navigating dangerous tides through sleepless nights assisted only by the skipper, whom we forget is a nine-year-old girl. Her belief in all of her kids as fully-formed people is encouraging (six-year-old Peter does a good job of steering the boat), she repairs the engine despite nil mechanical training, and only at rare times do you realize how alone she was. Blanchet and her crew encounter bears, storms, abandoned Native American villages, and two scary-as-shit ghost/apparitions. Fall creeps in and calls them homeward, and the descriptions of home life are as lovely as life on the water. There are just a couple of moments where Blanchet acknowledges that others found her unusual or extraordinary (she and the kids wave off a summons from some older relatives informing her that she can't possibly continue on alone). And there is one very short, very beautiful passage where Blanchet, having piloted her children safely home after yet another summer, speaks of her loss. Just lovely all around.

  7. 5 out of 5

    John

    I was all set to read this one as an ebook, when as one of those "universal" coincidences the publisher offered me a copy of the audio edition. Very kind of them, and in no way influences my opinion of the story itself. If you're looking for a "clean" (G-rated) read, this one's for you - there were a couple of chapters that I found a bit ... cutesy, perhaps, though they fit in with the overall work (fairy-tale style rather than actual events). For the most part each chapter concerns a specific lo I was all set to read this one as an ebook, when as one of those "universal" coincidences the publisher offered me a copy of the audio edition. Very kind of them, and in no way influences my opinion of the story itself. If you're looking for a "clean" (G-rated) read, this one's for you - there were a couple of chapters that I found a bit ... cutesy, perhaps, though they fit in with the overall work (fairy-tale style rather than actual events). For the most part each chapter concerns a specific location visited, or potentially dangerous situation faced on the water. For those who like spooky tales, I found their visit to a deserted native village plenty spine-chilling. Definitely a recommended read, especially for those interested in maritime adventure or Canadian history (Canadiana). I found the audio narration truly outstanding, one of the best fits I've run across as a veteran listener; I had to regularly remind myself that it wasn't the voice of the author herself!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Fascinating and uniquely memorable. A widow's memoir recalling summers spent sailing/cruising the saltwater byways and coastline of Vancouver with her five children, during the 1920s, exploring vacated Indian villages, running inlet rapids, scaling cliffs, living off the land and sea, encountering bears and cougars . . . Certainly is an adventure worth reading. No helicopter parenting, for sure!. Almost the exact opposite. In today's world, some would even cry foul - child endangerment. But in m Fascinating and uniquely memorable. A widow's memoir recalling summers spent sailing/cruising the saltwater byways and coastline of Vancouver with her five children, during the 1920s, exploring vacated Indian villages, running inlet rapids, scaling cliffs, living off the land and sea, encountering bears and cougars . . . Certainly is an adventure worth reading. No helicopter parenting, for sure!. Almost the exact opposite. In today's world, some would even cry foul - child endangerment. But in my opinion, kids today could use a little more wilderness roughing it and less mollycoddling. I however was missing an Intimate connectivity with the author. I wanted to jump in the boat and journey with her, but I didn't quite feel invited. Blanchet's writing was clean and unpretentious, often philosophical and poetic, but I simply didn't feel a warm invitation. Almost journalistic, devoid of emotions. Ah but still, a fascinating memoir. And recommendable. Plus I learned a good bit about Vancouver, its native flora, fauna, and the region's history. THREE *** Adventurous and Fascinating, Historical Women of Tenacity *** STARS

  9. 4 out of 5

    Laurent

    A single mother with three children boating in British Columbia's Inside Passage in the 1920's and 1930's. Episodes and experiences from their travels. This little book is a microcosm-the little episodes inform us about relationships-with family, nature, technology (the boat), other people, past experience and the spiritual world. All in plain stores simply written. I can't recommend it enough.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ursula

    It is an unusual premise: a widow, five children (and sometimes a dog) on a 26 foot boat, travelling several long summers around the waters between Canada's mainland and Vancouver Island. One reviewer has commented that the book is a little impersonal - and it is: neither the personalities of the writer, or her children come through, and the actual "story" of their lives is not present. I would have liked a bit more personal background, but the real "character" here is the landscape; the moody at It is an unusual premise: a widow, five children (and sometimes a dog) on a 26 foot boat, travelling several long summers around the waters between Canada's mainland and Vancouver Island. One reviewer has commented that the book is a little impersonal - and it is: neither the personalities of the writer, or her children come through, and the actual "story" of their lives is not present. I would have liked a bit more personal background, but the real "character" here is the landscape; the moody atmosphere of the West Coast British Columbia woods and waters comes through on every page of this book. I bought The Curve of Time while travelling by boat in the very waters Capi (M. Wylie Blanchet) writes about, and devoured it in three days of calm waters. Matching the places she visited, back in the late 1920s, early 1930s, with the ones we were visiting in 2015, gave the pages extra poignancy. Even without that, though, her descriptions of the inlets and islands come to life with her poetic imagery. I particularly loved the inclusion of Capi's thoughts on Captain Vancouver's notes about his early explorations, her interpretation of the account of Juan de Fuca's voyages A slice of time, this book is a must read for anyone interested in the history and geography of BCs West Coast.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Susie

    Deb Walsh - Ladies Summer Reading Tea - exploring the coastal waters of the NW - a memoir - mother of 5, widowed in the 1920's - inspiring story of motherhood. My take - These are wonderful tales of enjoying the simple things/appreciating nature - exploring islands, beaches, winter Indian villages, meeting people who lived out in the middle of nowhere - meanwhile having amazing adventures - some scary, some simply beautiful. This woman is an amazing writer and must have been an amazing mother - s Deb Walsh - Ladies Summer Reading Tea - exploring the coastal waters of the NW - a memoir - mother of 5, widowed in the 1920's - inspiring story of motherhood. My take - These are wonderful tales of enjoying the simple things/appreciating nature - exploring islands, beaches, winter Indian villages, meeting people who lived out in the middle of nowhere - meanwhile having amazing adventures - some scary, some simply beautiful. This woman is an amazing writer and must have been an amazing mother - self-sufficient, intelligent, fun, etc. I would love to know what happened to those children as they grew up - they would be a little older than my parents and I think Grandmother Sylvia - given a different husband perhaps would have lived somewhat like this.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

    An utterly fantastic read. Generally this type of journal is more a description of the places the author is visiting but through Blanchet’s inquisitive, keen, and philosophical eye it becomes so much more. It transcends both time and place and becomes a good testament on how to live in and be apart of this world. Now I wanna buy a boat and roam the Canadian waters. Side note, it also manages to create it’s own mythology which was a fantastic surprise.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sylvester

    The perfect summer read - especially if you live in British Columbia. Really, for me, this book is about Capi. Here is a widowed woman taking her 5 children out on a sailboat summer after summer. The stuff she is made of - I'd like some of that. And it made me realize what wonders are on my doorstep.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chrisl

    Looking at my GR books tagged Canada. Saw this one, added re-read tag. The descriptive "classic" has long contained an element of annoyance. That's partly library employment induced, and partly my maverick genes. Like god, classic ... endless variations. Thinking classic, remembered, when, just a few weeks ago, chatting with one of the old timers in the library, being asked with enthusiasm if I'd ever read Blanchet. Indeed, yes, was impressed and curious to know more about her boat life. Will Time Looking at my GR books tagged Canada. Saw this one, added re-read tag. The descriptive "classic" has long contained an element of annoyance. That's partly library employment induced, and partly my maverick genes. Like god, classic ... endless variations. Thinking classic, remembered, when, just a few weeks ago, chatting with one of the old timers in the library, being asked with enthusiasm if I'd ever read Blanchet. Indeed, yes, was impressed and curious to know more about her boat life. Will Timeless feel be there with re-read? Is it a classic? Likely. In my fantasy world, the coast of British Columbia is a region for decades of exploration. The Curve of Time ...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Perri

    I selected this book because it takes place near my little corner of the world. Written by a widow with five young children, it's a memoir of their summer travels boating around the coast of British Columbia. I think Blanchet was both a very brave and very fool hardy woman. She and her children seek out isolated and unusual places and encounter eccentric individuals. With the casual ease of hind sight, she writes about her kids in perilous situations-first published in 1961, this was way before I selected this book because it takes place near my little corner of the world. Written by a widow with five young children, it's a memoir of their summer travels boating around the coast of British Columbia. I think Blanchet was both a very brave and very fool hardy woman. She and her children seek out isolated and unusual places and encounter eccentric individuals. With the casual ease of hind sight, she writes about her kids in perilous situations-first published in 1961, this was way before cell phones. From today's viewpoint, she and her kids basically plunder sacred Native American burial sites. Still, it was an interesting perspective on a time and place. Also, stunning cover

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    Great book! Wylie Blanchet is a powerful story teller. Her passion for coastal B.C. waterways and history comes through clearly. The adventures she shared with her children were mesmerizing and sometimes thrilling. They travelled during a time when there were many risks and few ways to get help. Reading this while planning a trip to the area made it even more special.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Eve

    this book brought me back to what i cherish in life, and inspired me to make more time for living that way.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marta

    Read this in 2007. Last year we cruised the same waters. I want to re read this incredible account of a brave, strong and adventuresome woman

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paula Dembeck

    This is a volume of remembered experiences, incredible journeys the author took with her family in a small boat exploring the shores of British Columbia. Muriel and her husband Geoffrey moved West in the early 1920s and settled on Vancouver Island. At the time, Vancouver was a small, grubby, sawmill town and the province was considered a backwater. But the couple loved the landscape and began raising their children there. They bought a small boat they called The Caprice and used it for recreatio This is a volume of remembered experiences, incredible journeys the author took with her family in a small boat exploring the shores of British Columbia. Muriel and her husband Geoffrey moved West in the early 1920s and settled on Vancouver Island. At the time, Vancouver was a small, grubby, sawmill town and the province was considered a backwater. But the couple loved the landscape and began raising their children there. They bought a small boat they called The Caprice and used it for recreation. One day Geoffrey went out in the boat on a day trip and never returned. The boat was picked up later, but he was nowhere to be found and was presumed dead. One might think that Muriel, left a widow in her early thirties with five children, might never want to set foot in a boat again. But a year after her husband’s death, she bundled her young children into the boat and began travelling the inland seas during the summers. The family would leave their secluded seven acre property on Vancouver Island each year in June and return later in October. These are her memories of their adventures during the fifteen summers she travelled with her children up and down the coast, investigating inlets, recreating the travels of early explorers and examining artifacts in the empty villages of native peoples. During their travels they were frequently lost or never sure of exactly where they were, forced to rely on pilot books and out of date charts to navigate their way along the rocky shore. At the time, the coastal rainforest was still intact and much of what they saw is now gone. The book is neither a story nor a log, just an account of the adventures Muriel and her children enjoyed during these summer camping holidays. Blanchett first published this small volume in the United Kingdom, but with little publicity the book was completely unnoticed in Canada. The Canadian edition published in 1968 was well received and she started a second volume shortly afterwards. Blanchett died of a heart attack while writing it, found by friends slumped over her typewriter and hard at work. This volume is now considered a classic travelogue in Canadian literature, one of the few to chart a woman’s experience travelling the coastal waterway during that time period, recording her nomadic experiences and sharing her interactions with the natural world. Blanchett approaches the rugged natural beauty of the British Columbia Coast with an appreciative eye. Her narrative reflects the way she viewed her surroundings, not as someone pitted against nature but rather as a part of it. She did not see the landscape as a dangerous, hostile wilderness, something to be feared, confronted, challenged and conquered. What she saw she described as beautiful, striking and awesome. She alluded to its dangers by simply acknowledging the powerful tides, the dangerous rapids, the unpredictable winds and the heavy insistent fog which could appear out of nowhere. In one instance, she describes coming upon a wall of rock that suddenly appeared ten feet in front of her vessel, rising out of the sea in the fog. But she did not panic or cower before it. Instead, mesmerized by its majesty, she stepped out on the deck to get a better look and to marvel at the flocks of seabirds nesting in its crevices. Anyone the family met in these isolated surroundings was hospitable, ready to share what little they had and open to the infrequent experience of human visitors. We know little about the children themselves who serve as her crew and three of the five, Joan, Peter and John are most frequently referred to in the text. In later sections two other names are mentioned, that of Elizabeth and David and the introductory remarks by a friend speak of her taking five children on these journeys. The Caprice was not a large vessel, only twenty-five feet long and 150 square feet. It was a challenge to pack everyone (and sometimes the dog) into this small space with all the gear and supplies they needed. Everything had to have its exact place or no one could move. Each person had one mug, one plate, one set of clothes, their pajamas and a bathing suit. Sleeping on board was cramped and uncomfortable so they spent every opportunity they had sleeping on the shore in their tent. Living on a boat in such close quarters must have been an uncomfortable, uneasy experience at times. Blanchett’s even tempered approach to whatever trying circumstances confronted her is not just remarkable but unusual. Blanchett spends little time on the domestic challenges of these adventures, instead using her narrative to record the spellbinding landscapes, the interesting people they encountered and the almost sensual experience of eating freshly caught salmon without knives and forks, the fish cooked on an open grate over a fire on a deserted beach. Several noteworthy experiences are described in detail. One involved meeting Mike, a logger who almost died in a barroom brawl and retreated to the isolated wilderness to heal his body and soul. There he built a house, nurtured the soil over several years and planted scores of apple trees. Surrounded by his thoughts, his books and the trees, he got his life back and stayed, happy and spiritually content in the new home he had created. In another adventure, the family was caught on the top of a mountain in heavy fog after a challenging and strenuous hike, unable to find their way back down and forced to navigate a nerve racking descent. They proceeded down slowly and carefully holding the hand of the person in front of them, the back of that person the only thing they could see clearly. They also had to cross swaths of wet granite which had been bathed with the fog and were now as slippery as ice. They negotiated this harrowing part of the journey by sitting down and sliding on their buttocks, their visibility the meager three or four feet in front of them, enough to keep them from falling off a precipice but not enough to give them any sense of direction. Blanchett also records some humorous moments on their journeys, including the time she whistled a duck to join young John who was having difficulty sleeping and the time she and the two boys, without a book to read aloud to each other in the late evening, made up a story about a whale they called Henry, a story that continued over many subsequent adventures and was frequently refereed to over the years. Blanchett is cautious, pragmatic and level-headed and appears able to cope with anything. Even the moments when she experiences concern, she quickly acknowledges it, deals with it and quite remarkably just moves on. After a harrowing adventure, she looks back and questions why they were worried, minimizing her “irrational fright” and saying to her children, “weren’t we sillies to worry”. Her competence on the water promotes a calm that allows all of them to have a positive connection to the landscape and the experience of their adventure. Any time there was true danger, it was never presented as such, but was seen as an opportunity to connect with the world, to become engaged and a part of it. Blanchett has created a single narrative choosing not to divide the text into dated sections about her various trips. Instead, each section focuses on the experience of a visit to a specific location. This results in the creation of a long narrative of small sketches which can be disorienting and confusing for the reader. One is never sure what year it is, the age of the children or the distance travelled. In each section, she skips back and forth between short passages of domestic life and the experiences of coastal life as they wander the landscape, pondering their connection to it and think of others who had explored it before them. In the process, she creates beautiful descriptive paragraphs of the lakes, waterfalls, rivers and the sea itself. She writes of exploring the beaches, fishing for their meals, looking for seahorses and encountering a host of wild animals including black, brown and grizzly bears, bald headed eagles, minks, a cougar, a pod of frolicking killer whales, vultures and a grey wolf and her cubs. As she describes each adventure she continues to show herself to be a competent and confident traveler who takes everything in stride, calmly facing every catastrophe and challenge she meets, including repairing the engine on the boat, dealing with a sick child or encountering a black bear. She does not dwell on personal dramas but minimizes them in the narrative to focus her attention on the experience and her connection with the natural beauty of the landscape. Her prose contains the meticulously recorded details of the phosphorescent bits of plankton in the sea, the relentless sometimes monotonous waves, and the every changing colors of the vast stretches of sea water. Reading about the family’s travels to the Indian Villages is difficult and disturbing. They had spent the winter months researching the Indian’s history and their habits, determined to get the most from these visits. Blanchett was especially anxious to explore a past that she believed would soon disappear and be lost forever. She never described encounters with the First Nation people, but felt free to explore their surroundings. The family entered boarded up longhouses despite the posted “No Trespassing” signs, removed artifacts from the sites and even disturbed their dead. Many of the villages they visited were not abandoned, simply closed up for the summer while the villagers went up the rivers to their fishing grounds. Although present day readers might be aghast at their offhanded attitude, it must be remembered that Blanchett was a product of the time in which she lived, a time when a colonial approach to native people was the norm. Canadians have since become aware of the damage they have done by this cavalier manner which has negatively impacted First Nation people through several subsequent generations. Reading about Blanchett and her family trespassing on these peoples’ lands, exploring their private homes, sifting through their belongings and wandering through the places that housed their dead are painful to read, a sorrowful reminder of what was accepted behavior in the past. This a book of travel and adventure, a very readable account of this unusual, independent, intelligent and brave woman who explored the waters between Vancouver Island and the rugged mainland coast of Canada with her family. I think about the children and the amazing childhood they must have experienced as well as the remarkable role model they had in a mother who was an adventurer and also a writer. It is a wonderful account of their adventures.

  20. 5 out of 5

    TBV

    "“I don’t quite like the mightn’ts!” said John anxiously. "What mightn’ts?” I asked, as I spun the wheel. "The mightn’ts be able to swim,” said John, eyeing the rough waters that curled at our stern."" Wow, I really enjoyed reading this book. It comprises several vignettes of boat trips undertaken along the British Columbia coast by the author and her five young children (and sometimes the dog) during summer in the years after her husband's death in 1926. She mostly refers to the children as the "“I don’t quite like the mightn’ts!” said John anxiously. "What mightn’ts?” I asked, as I spun the wheel. "The mightn’ts be able to swim,” said John, eyeing the rough waters that curled at our stern."" Wow, I really enjoyed reading this book. It comprises several vignettes of boat trips undertaken along the British Columbia coast by the author and her five young children (and sometimes the dog) during summer in the years after her husband's death in 1926. She mostly refers to the children as the "youngsters" or "crew", and although young they participate in the various activities. As they go from one inlet, island or cove to another she teaches the children (and the reader - this reader was fascinated) the history of the area and its indigenous peoples. There are many interesting cultural snippets about local tribes. Here they are visiting a deserted winter village: "When a chief built his house it was a custom for him to kill four of his slaves and bury one under each house post as it was raised—for strength, or good luck, or perhaps prestige. They had a curious habit of destroying their property just to show how great they were." "In the old days a chief would have greeted us when we stepped inside—a sea otter robe over his shoulder, his head sprinkled with white bird down, the peace sign. He would have led us across the upper platform between the house posts, down the steps into the centre well of the house. Then he would have sung us a little song to let us know that we were welcome, while the women around the open fires beat out the rhythm with their sticks. The earth floor would have been covered with clean sand in our honour and cedar-bark mats hastily spread for our sitting. Slaves would have brought us food—perhaps roe nicely rotted and soaked in fish oil, or perhaps with berries." She also describes the various carvings and the myths attached to them. She allows the reader to travel through time and space to see how these people lived. They encounter many different animals including bears, wolves, a cougar, marine animals and of course birds. She teaches her children to respect the environment and its inhabitants regardless of whether they be fish, flesh or feather. These children live in an innocent world where they romp around in the nude, fish for their dinner, climb rocks and swim in waterfalls. Mum (mom) navigates, steers, teaches and cooks. The children are her able crew and they are adept at providing the fish that she cooks for their meal. As well as being an able skipper who is perfectly capable of keeping the boat ship shape, the author is also erudite. In addition to displaying her extensive knowledge of the indigenous peoples she throws in references to authors such as James Joyce and others, and she regales not only her children, but the reader, with tales of Captain Vancouver after whom that great city is named. I was so enchanted that I immediately downloaded a nonfiction book about the captain. M. Wylie Blanchet, née Muriel Wylie Liffiton (2 May 1891 – 9 September 1961) died whilst writing a second book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    Muriel Wylie, who in l927 was left a widow with five children, packed them aboard a 25 foot boat and cruised the coastal waters between Vancouver Island the mainland for a number of summers. They went wherever they felt like going, exploring bays and inlets, often camping ashore. There is no chronological narrative, and the reader is left in almost a dreamlike state in following the adventures of Wylie and her five children. The title is explained at the first of the book. On board they had a b Muriel Wylie, who in l927 was left a widow with five children, packed them aboard a 25 foot boat and cruised the coastal waters between Vancouver Island the mainland for a number of summers. They went wherever they felt like going, exploring bays and inlets, often camping ashore. There is no chronological narrative, and the reader is left in almost a dreamlike state in following the adventures of Wylie and her five children. The title is explained at the first of the book. On board they had a book, Maeterlinck’s THE FOURTH DIMENSION which uses the anolgy of a curve. At the highest point, you can look forward and see the future, or look back and see the past, all in the same instant. Or if you’re at the side, you can go from one to the other without any distinction. This sense of indeterminate time pervades the book. The author speculates about the possible route taken by the mysterious explorer, Juan de Fuca, and later the British explorers who sailed these waters. When they come across deserted Indian villages with ghostly totem poles and lodges, they are made aware of the life that flourished here long before they encountered its remains. An even deeper past time is provided by the towering mountains and the ever present tidal waters that affect every movement of their small boat. Even though, amazingly it seemed to me, they have no serious accidents except for one child breaking a collar bone. But there is always a sense of impending danger. The tides can be treacherous as well as hidden shoals, all of which require very cautious navigation. And that’s not to mention some of their land exploration; at one point half of the group nearly gets lost on a mountain top when a thick fog rolls in over night. It could easily have been a fatal expedition. They get unfailing hospitality from individuals who live along these isolated shores, and Muriel seems to know how to do everything, from intricate navigation to repairing the engine when it breaks down. Something is always happening in the present, and although Blanchet doesn’t dwell on it at all, she suggests at one point that she is aware that she and her family may be leading a charmed life, “Destiny rarely follows the pattern we would choose for it, and the legacy of death often shapes our lives in ways we could not imagine. “ But these are golden days, this group of six people may be dwarfed by the forces of nature, but they are still in harmony with them, and reading the book leaves a reader suspended in sunshine and shadow, water and land, tides and calm, a timeless world of nearly 90 years ago.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Feltham

    This is a fun book to read if you live in the Pacific Northwest. It's an unusual story of a woman whose husband dies while out on their 25' motorboat in the 1930s, so she then takes her five kids and dog exploring on the same boat every summer for 15 years. The author's descriptions of serene and magnificent coves and pristine beaches makes you wish you could be traveling with her back then along Vancouver Island. Her accounts of the characters she meets in remote coves are hilarious, and she te This is a fun book to read if you live in the Pacific Northwest. It's an unusual story of a woman whose husband dies while out on their 25' motorboat in the 1930s, so she then takes her five kids and dog exploring on the same boat every summer for 15 years. The author's descriptions of serene and magnificent coves and pristine beaches makes you wish you could be traveling with her back then along Vancouver Island. Her accounts of the characters she meets in remote coves are hilarious, and she tells fascinating (and sometimes a bit arrogant) stories about tribal customs, such as placing the dead in wooden boxes that hung from trees. Her accounts of orcas were quite uninformed, though perhaps I am saying this knowing current research, however I could have done without her story-within-a-story of Henry the Killer Whale. Also at times I wondered about her parenting, as she would leave her little kids alone on the beaches while cougars and bears roamed nearby. But I'm reading her story many decades after the fact, and envious in many ways of their adventures and the opportunities they had to explore the natural beauty of a gorgeous area.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    The author is a widow who takes her five children exploring in a 25-foot boat each summer along the wilderness coast of British Columbia in the 1930s. It's beautifully written - a loosely threaded set of themed vignettes that tell of adventure and discovery along the coast that is pocketed with places to explore. I was continuously reminded of how remote the Native American villages and logging posts were in the early part of the century, and enjoyed meeting the characters she and her family vis The author is a widow who takes her five children exploring in a 25-foot boat each summer along the wilderness coast of British Columbia in the 1930s. It's beautifully written - a loosely threaded set of themed vignettes that tell of adventure and discovery along the coast that is pocketed with places to explore. I was continuously reminded of how remote the Native American villages and logging posts were in the early part of the century, and enjoyed meeting the characters she and her family visited summer over summer, who chose to live so far 'off the grid' but yet stayed connected to varying degrees through the boat traffic that frequented the coast. The book really conjures up an image of the Pacific Northwest coastline and the myriad of craggy inlets and islands along with a taste of navigation in the area. It's also a remarkable story of an independent woman and mother in the early 30s, who must have instilled a wonderful sense of adventure in her kids. The imagery sticks with you long after you finish reading.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Owen

    If you were widowed with five young children, of course you'd spend summers exploring the Inside Passage and the BC coast with them in a 25-foot boat. Bears, cougars, orcas, storms, reefs, rock slides, crazy woodsmen, and unreliable food and water—what better environment to raise a child? (And this in the '20s, when radio wasn't available there, let alone cell phones and GPS.) There's not really any continuous story here, but every scene and event is so beautifully and unpretentiously told that y If you were widowed with five young children, of course you'd spend summers exploring the Inside Passage and the BC coast with them in a 25-foot boat. Bears, cougars, orcas, storms, reefs, rock slides, crazy woodsmen, and unreliable food and water—what better environment to raise a child? (And this in the '20s, when radio wasn't available there, let alone cell phones and GPS.) There's not really any continuous story here, but every scene and event is so beautifully and unpretentiously told that you accept the family's reality as normal. There are only a half-dozen black-and-white photos in the book, but from Blanchet's writing I have a better idea of the beauty of the coast than I've had from living near it for 18 years. I'm trying to think of further ways to praise this book, but I can't. Read it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Howard Cincotta

    This is an obscure but wonderful book by a woman who, after becoming a widow in 1927, sailed the coast of British Columbia each summer with her five children in a 25-foot boat. (The husband and father is never mentioned but his loss is palpable.) The family explores a landscape that was still a frontier wilderness in many ways, and Blanchet tells tales of storms and tides, wildlife, sailors, loggers, and settlers in plain but vivid prose. This is a great book for anyone interested in the regional This is an obscure but wonderful book by a woman who, after becoming a widow in 1927, sailed the coast of British Columbia each summer with her five children in a 25-foot boat. (The husband and father is never mentioned but his loss is palpable.) The family explores a landscape that was still a frontier wilderness in many ways, and Blanchet tells tales of storms and tides, wildlife, sailors, loggers, and settlers in plain but vivid prose. This is a great book for anyone interested in the regional history of the Northwest, and while the rugged beauty of British Columbia remains, you can't help but be struck by how much of an older, more traditional but enriching way of life we have lost.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    What a lovely and charming book that of course made me dream of carefree adventures of my own! It seems appropriate that I finished this book while in my tent this weekend, in a campground overlooking the Salish Sea.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    First of all, I had no idea that sailing was this difficult. Of course, I grew up in the desert so I really don't know anything about water or watercraft. I spent most/all of the book being amazed by the deep experience of the author in knowing and finding routes through difficult waters. She mentions many times that she consults the Coast Pilot to find safe harbor, or looks up times for slack water or tides in the (same/different?) book. I had a hard time imagining how I would make sense of all First of all, I had no idea that sailing was this difficult. Of course, I grew up in the desert so I really don't know anything about water or watercraft. I spent most/all of the book being amazed by the deep experience of the author in knowing and finding routes through difficult waters. She mentions many times that she consults the Coast Pilot to find safe harbor, or looks up times for slack water or tides in the (same/different?) book. I had a hard time imagining how I would make sense of all that information fast enough to make timely decisions while sailing. I did try to follow along many of the locations with a road atlas of British Columbia and google maps, but with only partial success. I was also constantly in awe of the author as a mother. How did she raise her children so that all 5 of spent all summer on a boat together without whining? But more intriguing was the type of life they led, spending all day swimming, sailing, catching fish, hiking, exploring out of doors. They consulted charts with her and helped choose routes, they caught and cleaned fish. How wonderful and amazing to have an opportunity to live a life this close with her children. The brief reference at the end of the book to her husband's death and her children's reaction was very touching. The minimalist treatment of it made sense to me; some things are felt too strongly to put into many words. After reading this book, I'm considering how to take our children on a summer sailing trip in the Salish Sea or somewhere thereabouts.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kaitlin

    I really enjoyed this memoir, despite the fact that this isn't usually my kind of thing. It's very vivid in its descriptions of everything from the scenery to the boat to the fish. I've never been on a boat overnight before, so all of the descriptions of navigating and keeping the boat safe were really fascinating. But I particularly enjoyed the way that it seemed almost to paint a landscape inside my head, and I kept having to slow down to appreciate it better. I was glad to have the warning in I really enjoyed this memoir, despite the fact that this isn't usually my kind of thing. It's very vivid in its descriptions of everything from the scenery to the boat to the fish. I've never been on a boat overnight before, so all of the descriptions of navigating and keeping the boat safe were really fascinating. But I particularly enjoyed the way that it seemed almost to paint a landscape inside my head, and I kept having to slow down to appreciate it better. I was glad to have the warning in the Foreword that her attitudes towards Native Americans and orcas (which I wasn't expecting to be warned about but it did explain some things) are typical of the 1920s and 30s but aren't what we would consider good, because then when it came up I was prepared for it. She really doesn't spend a long time on those subjects in the memoir, but she does and thinks some objectionable things. So if you do read this, keep that in mind.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ann Nielsen

    I loved this book! Possibly because I read it while on a boat for 8 days off the west coast of Canada in some of the same areas that Kate and her family were exploring back in the 1920’s and 30’s. Very interesting and educational too, as Wylie Blanchet wove history into the story of her and her 5 children’s adventures exploring old Indian villages, experiences with wildlife, and dealing with all kinds of weather and other unforeseen circumstances. I read excerpts to my grandsons while on the tri I loved this book! Possibly because I read it while on a boat for 8 days off the west coast of Canada in some of the same areas that Kate and her family were exploring back in the 1920’s and 30’s. Very interesting and educational too, as Wylie Blanchet wove history into the story of her and her 5 children’s adventures exploring old Indian villages, experiences with wildlife, and dealing with all kinds of weather and other unforeseen circumstances. I read excerpts to my grandsons while on the trip. They enjoyed hearing some of the stories told in this book as well. This was just the read I needed while on this trip!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth (teacupsandfirereads)

    3.5 stars My mom recommending this to me off her shelf to meet a prompt in a reading challenge. To Be honest, I wasn't all that sure about it. Yes, I liked the sound of it and that it was based around the island which I live. Beyond that, I didn't know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. This is a memoir, but it is not so much about her life as it is about her adventure. The place, the geography, that is all quite vivid, but you don't gleam much about her life beyond that. The afterward m 3.5 stars My mom recommending this to me off her shelf to meet a prompt in a reading challenge. To Be honest, I wasn't all that sure about it. Yes, I liked the sound of it and that it was based around the island which I live. Beyond that, I didn't know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. This is a memoir, but it is not so much about her life as it is about her adventure. The place, the geography, that is all quite vivid, but you don't gleam much about her life beyond that. The afterward mentions she was quite a private person, which the story indicated. Overall, I quite enjoyed it and felt like I was living the adventure vicariously through the story.

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