Excerpt from A Pearl in the Storm by Tori Murden McClure, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

A Pearl in the Storm

How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean

by Tori Murden McClure

A Pearl in the Storm
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2009, 304 pages
    Apr 2010, 304 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

In my barge, I would need all the natural assistance I could get. I closed my eyes and listened to the echoes of thunder. In 49 b.c.e., as Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River with his army on the way to conquer Rome, he said, "Jacta alea est" (the die is cast). By tomorrow evening, I will have crossed my Rubicon and there will be no going back. Each time the thunder and lightning shattered my sleep, I pulled out the flashlight and checked the compass. It read 45 degrees; the thunderstorm was blowing the American Pearl toward the northeast. At its closest point, the Gulf Stream was southeast, but France was northeast. If every squall blows me toward France, I’ll be praying for rain. I set the alarm for 5:30 a.m. and went back to sleep. The next thing I heard was the beep of the alarm. Time to row! For well over a decade, I’d rolled out of bed before dawn to go rowing, but this was different. I pulled on my life vest and poked my head out the main hatch. The smell of salt air filled my nostrils. I clipped my safety tether into the steel cable that ran the length of the rowing deck. Then I stood to scan the horizon. The wind tousled my hair. The sky to the east was just beginning to shift from black to gray. I searched the southwest horizon, trying to find the light from Bodie Island. There were no landmarks. There was no land. I’m committed now; no diving overboard, no swimming back to shore.

I stared into the black water. No rope on board could reach the bottom. I placed my oars in their oarlocks and screwed the gates closed. Then I sat down on the rowing seat and slipped my feet into the shoes that were bolted onto a footplate. Rowers call this plate a foot-stretcher, but no six-foot-tall woman who wears size-twelve shoes wants to think about having her feet stretched.

By this time, the eastern sky glistened pink, and I was ready for my first full day at the oars. Like most rowers, I started at the finish. That is, I began by sitting in the finish position: legs straight, shoulders and head high, arms bent, with the oars drawn into my ribs. The first motion was to send the hands away from the body and out over the knees. Next, I pivoted from the hips to swing my torso forward.

Once my shoulders were as far forward as I could comfortably reach, I let my knees bend.

Approaching the catch is like doing a deep knee bend in a seated position. The sliding seat rolled forward until my torso touched my knees. At that point I lifted my hands and allowed the oars to drop and catch the water. Then the process reversed itself. I pushed off the foot-stretcher, driving my legs down until they were nearly straight. Then I swung my body open until my shoulders passed over my hips, and I leaned back until my stomach muscles tightened. Just before the end of the body swing, I pulled the oars toward my ribs using my arms. Before the oar handles actually hit my ribs, I pushed my hands down. This action triggered a seesaw motion of the oars against the fulcrums of the oarlocks. As the handles went down, the oar blades went up, rising out of the water. That was one stroke — only one million and a couple of hundred thousand more to go.

I rowed until 7:00 a.m., then stopped for breakfast. I mixed a cup of powdered milk and dumped a sandwich bag full of granola into it. I munched through breakfast in less than seven minutes and returned to the oars. There were calluses on my hands and on my backside from years of rowing in flat-water racing boats. I rowed until noon. By that time, my heels were beginning to blister.

Blisters grow. Blisters break. Broken blisters can become infected. Infections at sea are bad. Ergo, blisters are bad. I folded myself through the main hatch. In the cabin, I retrieved the first-aid kit and covered my heels with a layer of moleskin to reduce the friction and avoid fullblown blisters. For lunch, I mixed up some powdered Gatorade and grabbed two food bars.

Excerpted from A Pearl in the Storm by Tori Murden McClure. Copyright © 2009 by Tori Murden McClure. Excerpted by permission of Collins, a division of HarperCollins, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hag-Seed
    by Margaret Atwood
    There's a scene in The Tempest that many critics have concluded is indicative of Shakespeare&#...
  • Book Jacket: Crossing the Horizon
    Crossing the Horizon
    by Laurie Notaro
    In Crossing the Horizon, Laurie Notaro takes us back to a time when flying was a rare and risky ...
  • Book Jacket
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.