2008-05-09 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

A Tale Of Life On The High Seas

An exciting life does not necessarily have to always translate into an exciting story.

Former Rockaway resident, Viviane Thereau, spent most of her childhood living at sea after her family fled their home in France during World War II.

Fifty or so years later, after her experiences, Thereau compiled all the adventures she had while living on a boat in the Caribbean Islands into a somewhat lengthy autobiographical account.

The book, Growing Up at Sea, published by Trafford Publishing, traces Thereau's life from the time her family left their French home to her marriage at age 18.

The summary on the back cover states that this is "a story that could have been written by Robert Louis Stevenson." It's rather bold to compare your work to the work of Stevenson, the author of the wildly exciting book, Treasure Island. Unfortunately, for Thereau, Growing Up at Sea, does not live up to that expectation.

Thereau's life does sound adventurous. However, the writing does not do it justice. The synopsis at the beginning gives away nearly the entire story, including the scene where Thereau is kidnapped by Native Americans in the Amazon jungle, making it less intriguing to the reader.

The first chapter drags on a bit as Thereau describes her father's upbringing. She does give a good sense of her town's atmosphere, using phrases like, "the town that held its breath."

However, the pacing of the story is too fast. Thereau packs in a lot of events in the 242-page book. By cramming in everything that happened to her in her childhood, Thereau sacrifices descriptions that would have brought her story to life. The lack of description and emotion behind the words makes the story seem less personal. Thereau skims quickly through the most interesting events, such as the powerful hurricane that nearly destroyed her family's boat. She even quickly glosses over her first kiss, a major event in any young girl's life. Thereau's narrative would have benefited greatly if she had written only about major events and described them in much greater detail.

Growing Up at Sea is a nice simple read but it doesn't have the attention grabbing details that an adventure book should have. After a while, all the events begin to sound alike.

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