Monday, June 30, 2014

Beach Reading

Diaristfamily spent the last two weeks at the beach.  I brought along some reading material but I always like to browse the island library's "used books for sale" department.  Most of the donated books are either trashy paperback bodice-rippers or poorly written sci-fi or detective novels.  It never ceases to amaze me what the large majority of peeps on my island read.  Very occasionally my search through the dreck unearths a book worthy of the fifty cents to one dollar asking price.  It doesn't take much of a hunt to thrill your old diarist.  This year's find was a short novel by British author Gibson Cowan called The log of the Pelican.

Well worth my 50 cents.

The story is set in East Africa during the early stages of World War II.  The Pelican is a small sailing yacht owned by an absentee American owner.  The owner wants the boat sailed from the Suez to the east coast of the US.  A British ex-pat replies to a small newspaper ad and without much of an interview is added to a crew of miss-fits and ne'er-do-wells who, without proper documentation or preparation, start off down the Red Sea towards Mombasa.

Back in 1952 this book sold for 12 schillings and 6 pence--about $25.00 in today's money--about the price of a typical hard bound book today but considerably more of an out lay in those days of lower wages.

Reproduction of an Admiralty chart.  One could have navigated by the inside leaves of this book!
When I marched up to the librarian to make my purchase, she said "Ah yes, I almost bought this one myself.  There were two different titles dropped off."  I took my find home, grabbed a beach chair and finished the little book off in a day and a half.  I returned to the library in hopes of finding the other book, entitled The voyage of the Evelyn Hope but someone beat me to it.  I'll keep checking back.  Sometimes a book reappears after the initial buyer reads it.  So, how would I describe this book?  It was a very good beach read.  The style is that of Nevil Shute:  proper character development and a well crafted scene with important details of the boat, the passage, the complications of war time restrictions on movement, etc. fleshed out.  I'd give it a two star recommendation--very much worth reading if you stumble across a copy as I did.  I searched ebay in vain for the other title but did find several copies of the Log of the Pelican on offer, so copies aren't too hard to find if I've piqued your curiosity.

1 comment:

  1. "a crew of miss-fits and ne'er-do-wells".....sounds like many a restaurant you may come across.