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
    Paperback:
    Apr 2010, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Chapter 1
The Quest Begins
June 14, 1998
latitude north 35:52, longitude west 75:34
the Outer Banks of North Carolina

In the end, I know I rowed across the Atlantic to find my heart, but in the beginning, I wasn’t aware that it was missing. In January 1998, I asked my uncle, "If I write a book about my explorations, should I write it as a comedy, a history, a tragedy, or a romance?" With a twinkle in his eye, he said, "A romance—it must be a romance." He explained that I was too young to write my life as a history: "Who wants to read the history of half a life?" Tragedy, he explained, was "boring." Anyone over the age of thirty can write his or her life as a tear-soaked muddle. "There is no challenge in that," my uncle counseled. "Comedies are fine, but the greatest stories in life are about romance."

I didn’t doubt that my uncle spoke the truth, but there was a problem. I had no experience with romance. None. I was thirty five. Tragedy, I could write. Comedy, I could write. Even history, I could write. Romance was out of my depth. If I had charted a map of my life, I would have placed romance on the far side of an unexplored ocean, where ships would drop off the edge of the world and the legend at that edge of the map would read, "Here there be sea monsters."

I considered myself a thoroughly modern woman. As a graduate of Smith College, I embraced the notion that our culture had evolved to the point where a woman might openly take on the role of an Odysseus. Like the epic hero in Homer’s Odyssey, women could be clever. We could set out on epic quests of our own choosing. Like men, we could be independent and internally motivated. Women could be tested and not found wanting in trials of courage, resourcefulness, endurance, strength, and even solitude. What I did not know was that exploring these vaguely masculine qualities would not be enough for me. I am, after all, a woman. It was not until my boat dropped off the edge of the world, into the realm of sea monsters, that I began to understand some of what I had been missing. Le t ’ s face it: normal , well-adjusted women don’t row alone across oceans. According to the records of the Ocean Rowing Society, in London, England, no woman had ever rowed solo across an ocean, but I didn’t let this worry me. About midday on Sunday, June 14, 1998, I drove my old gray pickup truck towing a rowboat to the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, a few miles south of the sleepy beach town of Nags Head, North Carolina.

I’d already made the obligatory stop at the Coast Guard station. The officer in charge had done his best to talk me out of making the trip. More men had walked on the moon than had successfully rowed alone across the North Atlantic. Nonetheless, I stood squarely behind a very simple legal precedent: men had been allowed to leave the coast of the United States in rowboats bound for Europe. They couldn’t very well stop me just because I was a woman. Once my boat passed the Coast Guard inspection, I was free to go.

I backed my twenty-three-foot rowboat down a ramp and launched the American Pearl. The boat was six feet wide at its widest point. The tallest part of the rear cabin sat four feet above the waterline. In the center of the vessel was a rowing deck about the size of the cargo bed in my Ford F-150. The rowing deck was open to the sky, but there was a watertight cabin at the back of the boat. I would enter the cabin through a waterproof Plexiglas hatchway that was nineteen inches square. This window-sized door between the cabin and the rowing deck was the main hatch.

To call the stern compartment a "cabin" exaggerates the space.

The watertight sleeping area was slightly larger than a double-wide coffin. I couldn’t sit erect without hitting my head on the ceiling, but I could lie down with a few inches to spare. In the floor that served as my bed there were eight small hatches. These opened into little storage compartments that contained my electrical equipment, tools, clothing, and other gear. Between the cabin and the rowing deck was a cockpit that was two feet wide and sixteen inches deep. This little footwell would serve as a kitchen, bathroom, navigational center, and weather station. There were two small benches on either side of the cockpit. One bench housed the desalination system that would turn salt water into drinking water. In the other, I stored my stove and cooking gear when they were not in use. Like my rowing station, the cockpit was uncovered and open to the weather.

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!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Here I Am
    Here I Am
    by Jonathan Safran Foer
    With almost all the accoutrements of upper middle-class suburban life, Julia and Jacob Bloch fit the...
  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & 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.

 
X

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.