Books about storms fascinating to read

Elizabeth Cran
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People have such an interest in storms — sand storms, sea storms and every other kind — that there’s no wonder books on the subject abound.  

Here are two of the best.

Facing the Sea by Harold Chubb and Wade Kearley (Flanker, $34.95) is a collection of stories told by lightkeepers themselves to Chubbs.  

Gary Collins, the popular and prolific Newfoundland writer, is the author of The Gale of 1929.  It’s the story of 11 sailing schooners caught in that terrible gale and how they fared, sailing from St. John’s to their home ports.

Each had quite a different trip, but only one failed to reach home.  This book, too, is published by Flanker at $19.95.  

The Gale of 1929 caused the author a unique problem: how to narrate the adventures of 11 schooners leaving from the same port, following the same general route, and struggling through the same storms.  

What he ended up doing was telling each story from a different point of view. In one, the skipper has his young daughter aboard; in another, a 20-year-old boy, one of the captain’s sons, is very sick and dies while being rescued. In a third, the schooner's crew members were rescued and taken to New York City, although their vessel sank.

This book is gripping and correctly written, though not literary.  Anyone who enjoys adventure stories will appreciate it.

In Facing the Sea the authors provide a map which shows 23 lighthouses around the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador, all more or less remote; a few stand on such small islands — or rather rocks — that the lightkeeper’s children wouldn’t be able to play outside.

A beautiful, impressive photograph accompanies each story, and others appear throughout.

Although some of the history is included in each narrative, the focus is on some extraordinary event or situation.  

Some of these are: The Disappearance of Harvey Inkpen; Penguin Island’s Mysterious Cemetery; The Washing Machine Rescue and The Italian Invasion.

While reading these narratives, one gets a clear impression of how keepers — especially those with families or those on duty for a year at a time — managed.  

Perhaps, too, the reader will imagine what it was like before radio, telephone, not to mention other later means of communication or before there were lighthouses at all.

Elizabeth Cran is a freelance writer who writes a book review column for The Guardian. To comment or to send her books to review, write her at 111 Sydney St., Apt. 17, Saint John, N.B., E2L 2L8, or call her at 506-693-5498.

Organizations: The Guardian

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, New York City, Penguin Island Saint John

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