By Connie Van Guilder
(Editor note: Connie writes for the Choose Your Destiny blog, a weekly eZine that arrives each Friday with advice about health, family, creativity, and business. We recommend you go here and sign up for your free copy.)
West by Sea: A Treasure Hunt That Spans the Globe
By Michelle and Edward Beale
One of my favorite genres of literature is the travelogue. Another favorite is the adventure tale. This book covers both genres nicely as we follow this couple’s journey of one hundred and five days circling the globe on a ship. The narrative is written in the first person and it reads just like they are talking with you, sharing the details of the trip in the present tense. They feel like friends right from the start of the book. The writing is conversational and lively, with humorous tales of the travails of ship life written amongst the details of their sights at each port of call.
The layout of this book is like nothing I have ever seen before. It is graphically pleasing, with pages colored to look like an antique map. Each page has three color photos of some of the most beautiful places one can find on the globe, and not just the major spots that are always photographed, but creatively framed photos of nature, architecture, and people. The Beale’s also provide a ship’s log detailing daily position, status, and weather. The reader is just as concerned as the authors about the heat, the rain, the pitching of the ship, and the wonderful quotes by some creative and famous people are found on every page, as well.
Although the words of Mark Twain, Aesop, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Oprah Winfrey inspire me, my very favorite quote in the book is by the author: “Onward I sail, because the world is just the start.”
But the element of the book that I find most endearing is the reason for their trip. Michelle Beale was diagnosed with brain cancer. She had a tumor the size of a lemon. She endured brain surgery and long, painful treatments to survive her cancer. In the face of this life-altering illness, Michelle and Edward decided that taking their dream trip was the best course of action.
They sailed across six continents, through 40 ports in 28 countries, sailing 34,634 nautical miles in 105 days. Each page depicts one place they visited. It is chronological, but it flows so well from page to page that the book is difficult to put down. It is so well-written that if it was black words on a white page the read would be equally enthralling; however, we are treated to so many other visual delights in this book that it is truly an adventure in itself.
An example of one of the rare treats the reader receives is on the page below the epilogue. It reads: “each faithful reader of this journal participated in a journey around the world and is counted among the honored members of the West by Sea Society.”
Apparently, there is a treasure to be found, somewhere on the planet, with instructions on how to partake in the search. This book is a treasure in itself. When you read, you are on the journey. You are friends with the Beale’s and you root for them through their trip, looking forward to each port of call, and each adventure they enjoy.
To top it off, the proceeds of this book are donated to charity. Do read this book.