The Water in Between: Book summary and reviews of The Water in Between by Kevin Patterson

The Water in Between

By Kevin Patterson

The Water in Between
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  • Published in USA  May 2000,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

A stint in the army and a broken heart lead Kevin Patterson to the dock of a sailboat brokerage on Vancouver Island, where he stands contemplating the romance of the sea and his heartfelt desire to get away. By the end of the day, he finds himself the neophyte owner of a sailboat called the Sea Mouse. He also has a plan: to sail to Tahiti and back, and burn away his failings in hard miles at sea.

First he recruits a traveling companion, another brokenhearted guy who at least knows how to sail. They set out like the Two Stooges-Seasick and Slapstick. Days without wind are days to kick back on the deck with a beer and a man-versus-nature adventure book that valorizes their journey into an essential quest for manhood. But eventually the voyage begins to take on a sharper edge. On a relentless beat across the South Pacific, they run across one solitary male sailor after another on the lam, not heroes but refugees. Both the literature and the reality of masculine adventure start to pall, and Patterson begins to long for home.

But to get there, he faces the toughest of trials, single-handedly sailing the Sea Mouse across the North Pacific and through a four-day gale, conscious that no one on earth knows where he is or that he might die. The illusion that men are best tested by loneliness and adversity cracks in the force of the wind and the terrifying beat of the water, and The Water In Between becomes a hymn, not to running away but to heading home.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"In the end, the book doesn't create fully satisfying secondary characters nor a resounding conclusion-but those are relatively small criticisms given the insight, authenticity and courage of Patterson's good work." - PW.

"Patterson delves deeply into the personality of the sailor and includes quotes from countless sailing and travel books. A good purchase for public libraries." - Library Journal.

"Sometimes deadly .... are his long paraphrases of and quotations from works by other seafarers like Bruce Chatwin and Joshua Slocum.Patterson’s voice is fresh, witty, and intelligent—and he could get by with a little less help from his friends.

"The Water In Between is a terrific literary travel story." - Toronto Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year.

"The Water In Between is well deserving of a place alongside Bruce Chatwin's The Songlines, Peter Matthiessen's The Snow Leopard, and Paul Theroux's The Happy Isles of Oceania, other much-loved voyages of loss, escape, and discovery." - Quill and Quire (Toronto).

"[A] delightful, finely written and, in the end, wise book." - New York Times.

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Author Information

Kevin Patterson Author Biography

Photo: Lawrence Melious

Kevin Patterson grew up in Manitoba and put himself through medical school by joining the Canadian army. Now a specialist in internal medicine, he practises in the Arctic and on the coast of British Columbia. His first book, a memoir called The Water in Between, was a Globe Best Book and an international bestseller. Country of Cold, his debut short fiction collection, won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize in 2003, as well as the inaugural City of Victoria Butler Book Prize. He lives on Saltspring Island.

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