The Way of a Ship: A Square Rigger Voyage in the Last Days of Sail

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Review Excerpts


"The setting - the sea - ultimately becomes the principal character in this gorgeous book and, as a protagonist, Lundy's ocean is as real and nuanced and true as Emma Bovary."

                                                                                                     — The Globe And Mail


"A fantastic ride through one of the greatest moments in the history of adventure....Lundy is a master of tension and storytelling....[he] documents life under sail as few others have, joining a pantheon of master author-sailors such as Joseph Conrad, Herman Melville and Richard Henry Dana."

                                                                                                               — Seattle Times


“Lundy documents life under sail as few others have, joining a pantheon of master author-sailors such as Joseph Conrad, Herman Melville and Richard Henry Dana. He borrows from them extensively but improves on Conrad's wordiness, Melville's romanticism and the shape of Dana's classic Two Years Before the Mast.This masterly documentary becomes a page turner to rank with the very best by Patrick O’Brien.”

                                                                                                     

                                                                                                        — The Times (London)


"Convincing dialogue crests on rippling waves of fiction, yet readers will surface with a strong sense of seagoing history, a knowledge of the specialized skills involved in keeping square-riggers afloat and a respect not only for the fierce power of the elements but also for Lundy's considerable talent as a writer."

                                                                                                        — Publishers Weekly


"Lundy fills scene after scene of almost sniffable atmosphere with compelling and believable details ... His creation and control of his characters could satisfy a boatload of novelists."

                                                                                                       — The Sunday Times


"This book gets off to a screaming start ... [Lundy] has saltwater in his blood and his knowledge of the most arcane seafaring terms and traditions, coupled with careful research on 19th-century square-rigger voyages, makes this a tremendously elucidating, frequently thrilling, read."

                                                                                                        — Sunday Telegraph



In The Way of a Ship, Derek Lundy places his seafaring great-great uncle, Benjamin Lundy, aboard the “Beara Head” and brings to life the ship’s community as it performs the exhausting and dangerous work of sailing a square-rigger across the sea.


    The “beautiful, widow-making, deep-sea” sailing ships could sail fast in almost all weather and carry substantial cargo. Handling square-riggers demanded detailed and specialized skills, and life at sea, although romanticized by sea-voyage chroniclers, was often brutal. Seamen were sleep deprived and malnourished, at times half-starved, and scurvy was still a possibility.

   Lundy reminds readers what Melville and Conrad expressed so well: that the sea voyage is an overarching metaphor for life itself. He tells his gripping tale with the kind of storytelling skill and writerly breadth that is usually the ken of our finest novelists, and in so doing, imagines a harrowing and wholly credible history for his seafaring Irish-Canadian ancestor. 

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