An urban 20-something Aussie girl gets on the booze in a San Francisco bar, chats up a soulful, handsome stranger, has more drinks and finds herself in his bed next morning. Months pass, they drift into a relationship, then the man (Argentinian Ivan) introduces DeRoche to his other love—a sound but aging ocean yacht named Amazing Grace. His ambition—obsession might be a better word—is to spend years at sea, escaping from the world and coming ashore as rarely as possible. DeRoche could hardly be a worse companion for him, being a sophisticated city girl with a serious water phobia, yet they fall so deeply in love that she resolves to conquer her mountain of fears and accompany him. Her book is the entertainingly told story of the three years the couple spend planning and executing their voyage, despite doom-saying friends and family, DeRoche’s inexperience at sea, storms and setbacks and Ivan’s almost slapstick ability to court accidents. The book is by turns gripping, laugh-out-loud funny, moving and uplifting. It races to its conclusion and gives tantalising glimpses of their life after Amazing Grace. Almost any reader with a sense of adventure or a desire to confront their fears should love it. This book was originally self-published under the title Swept, before being purchased by a major trade publisher.
Max Oliver is a Sydney bookseller and traveller. This review first appeared in the Summer 2012/13 issue of Books+Publishing magazine. View more pre-publication reviews here.