Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sailing Out of Darkness (Book Review)

Publication Information: Whitefire Publishing, trade paperback, 2013 
Genre: Inspirational Fiction 
Plot:  Samantha, in her mid 40s, is recently divorced from a cheating ex and rebounded into an affair with a childhood friend, Jack, whose live-in girlfriend objected violently.   Ashamed of her lack of control and poor choices, Samantha leaves her home, boat, and beau to visit Italy where her daughter is studying in Florence. Tootie, managing Sam’s business back in Maryland, suggests Sam rendezvous with her uncle Teo, a famous mystery writer living in seclusion in Italy.   No one knows that Teo’s writer’s block ended when he started having mysterious visions of Sam – before he even knew who she was.  When they meet in real life, there is an instant bond: they have both suffered in the past and yearn for happiness, but Sam, in particular, acts and believes she is unworthy of redemption.   Can their unexpected friendship bring them both solace or will Sam’s anguish prevent any future happiness?

What I liked:  Oh, the weather outside in Boston is frightful but reading about gondola rides in Venice is delightful!   I enjoyed the descriptions of living on the water in a charming small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland (the second small Maryland town I have read about recently) and the heroine’s travels through Italy (including the mandatory visit to Florian’s which I have made myself).  I would have liked more descriptions of the two coffee shops Sam owned than endless pages about Jack’s psychotic girlfriend India.
What I disliked: The heroine is infuriatingly sorry for herself and inflicts her misery on everyone around her.  Having been hurt twice, she is unwilling to get involved romantically, which is understandable, but there is no reason to be rude to someone who befriended her when she was alone and miserable.  It wasn't completely convincing that Teo would fall for this conflicted, self-absorbed and tormented woman.

Observation:  These days, in traditional women's fiction or chick lit, the purpose of the best friend is to sympathize with the heroine and urge her to find a new man and have a fling.  In Christian fiction, the best friend is sympathetic but more bracing: "It's no good holding all this blame, Sam.  You need to let go.... You know perfectly well where you're supposed to take guilt and shame.  Better get on those knees of yours and work up some calluses, girl, or this is going to kill you, hear?...Seems to me, you get yourself right with God, then you look things square in the face..." Sam's friend Rhea admonishes.    

I suspect both approaches have their merits but must confess the former is more entertaining to this reader.
Source: Thank you to Trish and TLC Book Tours for including me in Normandie Fischer's tour.  I urge you to sample both Ms. Fischer’s recent books by stopping by one of the blogs below.   She is a lifelong sailor, which is reflected in her fiction, and also has a book out called Becalmed. You can visit her on Facebook or Twitter.   I have a copy of Sailing out of Darkness to give away (US only) – please leave me a message if you are interested, and I will pick a winner.

Normandie’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, January 22nd: Spiced Latte Reads – Sailing Out of Darkness
Thursday, January 23rd: The Most Happy Reader – Sailing Out of Darkness
Friday, January 24th: The Book Barn – Sailing Out of Darkness
Monday, January 27th: Obsessed Italian Brat – Sailing Out of Darkness
Wednesday, January 29th: Books and Bindings – Becalmed
Monday, February 3rd: Time 2 Read – Becalmed
Tuesday, February 4th: Staircase Wit – Sailing Out of Darkness
Wednesday, February 5th: Sammy the Bookworm – Sailing Out of Darkness
Thursday, February 6th: Good Girl Gone Redneck - Sailing Out of Darkness
Monday, February 10th: Shelf Pleasure (guest post)
Tuesday, February 11th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World – Becalmed
Wednesday, February 12th: The Most Happy Reader – Becalmed
Monday, February 17th: Patricia’s Wisdom – Becalmed
Wednesday, February 19th: Cruising Susan Reviews – Sailing Out of Darkness
Thursday, February 20th: Obsessed Italian Brat – Becalmed
Monday, February 24th: Every Free Chance Book Reviews – Sailing Out of Darkness


Normandie Fischer said...

I do appreciate the time you took to read and review Sailing out of Darkness. I'm glad you picked up on my love of Italy and the Eastern Shore!

June Foster said...

Perhaps more entertaining, but is it honoring God? I believe this author would like to do just that through her heroine.

Robin Patchen said...

I found Sailing out of Darkness refreshing in its take on this subject. What kind of a friend suggests a second affair to repair the first? It might be entertaining to the friend--and the reader, I suppose--but would only end in misery for the main character. I like Rhea's character, sort of the white angel on the shoulder.

Fischer's writing is beautiful and her characters real. There are plenty of other writers who can do the expected. I like Fischer's use of the unexpected.

River said...

I found Sam an interesting character. I agree that she exhibits quite a lot of self pity and even wallowing in her circumstances. But isn't that how we are? That's a natural part of getting through tough stuff and circumstances before, hopefully, moving through and beyond.

Sam's economic circumstances do make it easier to criticize her. I wonder if she'd at times be so irritating if she lived in poverty instead! But feelings are feelings and I think Fischer has captured in a very authentic way how one reacts to a realization that your life just doesn't match up to how you thought it would.

Francis Spufford, in his book Unapologetic, speaks of the "human propensity to fuck things up" HPtFtU and Sam is a great illustration of this. As we all are!

Suzie Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Sounds like this would be a great escape read during all this cold and snow!

Thanks for being on the tour.