Shaw’s book is essentially a brief log describing a summer family sailing trip across the Mediterranean during the early 1960s. Each chapter offers a brief journal-like description of a particular stop along the journey, which took the family across southern France, Italy, Greece and Yugoslavia. Rather than providing a traditional guided reflection of noteworthy sights and sounds, Shaw offers simple impressions of place and snippets of his personal interactions with various locals, as well as named and unnamed celebrities.
The book reads like a scrapbook of reflections. The reader can’t help but picture Shaw himself revisiting this journal, looking back and reminding himself of this place and that, strange encounters and the fun had by all. Some descriptions are purposefully left obscure, yet are still retained. There is personal significance in what’s stated, and because of this, the reader can at times feel left out of the loop.
However, Shaw’s book does provide important insights into foreigner-native exchanges and how these interactions are affected by the class distinctions present during the mid-twentieth century. In this respect, Shaw’s little journal holds an important significance for the modern scholarly reader.
Copy provided by NetGalley
See my full review on my blog Mystereity Reviews
When I read the description of In The Company Of Dolphins, I thought it was a travel guide. I was completely mistaken, and I was not disappointed. In The Company Of Dolphins is so much more than a travel guide; it is a fascinating look back, not only to the exotic ports of call but also on the life and times of a brilliant author.
The book, originally published in the mid 1960s, is a memoir of author Irwin Shaw's cruise around the Mediterranean on a chartered boat. As a boy growing up in Brooklyn in the early part of the 20th century, he would look out at the boats moored in the harbor and dream of cruising the world. Decades later, his dream came true; he chartered a boat and sailed along the coast of Italy from St. Tropez ("...there is a whiff of Sodom and Gomorrah to it, and a little of a superb detention home for delinquent girls") to Monte Carlo, ("It is all very much like a camp for condemned millionaires") around Italy's boot to Yugoslavia and up to Venice.
Shaw's style of writing is engaging; you almost feel as though you're sitting in a little cafe with him, listening to his stories of sailing around Italy and Yugoslavia. I was taken in from the beginning, and I enjoyed experiencing the beautiful locations not only through his eyes, but also through the romantic rose-colored glasses that comes only by looking back fondly on by-gone times.
A short biography is incuded at the end of the book, and what an interesting life he led. Besides his many successful novels (including the WWII epic The Young Lions,) he was also a WWII veteran, having served in North Africa and Europe, and was a photographer who documented many important moments in the war, beginning with D-Day.
In The Company of Dolphins is a captivating and engrossing memoir, and a perfect read during an afternoon at the pool.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for my honest opinion.
In the Pacific there is an island that looks like a big fish sunning itself in the sea. Around it, blue dolphins swim, otters play, and sea elephants and sea birds abound. Once, Indians also lived on the island. And when they left and sailed to the east, one young girl was left behind. — This is the story of Karana, the Indian girl who lived alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. Year after year, she watched one season pass into another and waited for a ship to take her away. But while she waited, she kept herself alive by building shelter, making weapons, finding food, and fighting her enemies, the wild dogs. It is not only an unusual adventure of survival, but also a tale of natural beauty and personal discovery.
***Wanda’s Summer Carnival of Children’s Literature***
Well, this was a blast from the past! I remember reading this (probably several times) during grade 5 or 6, maybe both. Funny what I remember from those childhood readings—my take away from it was that girls could do whatever they needed to and just as well as anyone else.
Looking at it now through adult eyes, I see a lot more of what the author was trying to do. His wildlife conservation message is “thump you on the head” obvious to me now. I can also admire how he took a historical fact (an Indian woman who had lived alone on a small island off the coast of California for 18 years) and filled in quite believable adventures for her to experience.
I can see where nature-loving mini-me would have been captivated by her taming of wild dogs, Western Tanagers and sea otters. Being a child with no playmates of my own age living close by our farm, I also spent a lot of time adventuring alone and could relate to her solitude.
For me, this one stood the test of time.