on June 1, 2015
This is unstoppably funny twenty-two pages in. I laughed, re-read lines, and imagined to whom I might spread the humour! These real events show exactly from whence come his intimate familiarity and respect for Newfies. When <i>“The Black Joke”</i> was being composed in 1962, <b>Farley</b> was there with <i>Jack</i> having ‘Happy Adventure’ refurbished. Goodness, the 1960s were a backwards era on that island! We acquaint this journey intimately; truly from stem to stern. I wish I could ask him and perhaps could ask <i>Jack</i>, why they set a wooden boat budget of $1000.00. <i>Jack</i> was well set. Also why buy ‘Happy Adventure’ by dark, upon arrival, without discussion? Why did he not view her in the morning?
As we sail and this story begins to get sticky from a legal angle, it is fascinatingly clear that <i>“The Black Joke”</i> is wholly inspired by and written in the midst of, his actual sojourns to St. Pierre, Miquelon. <b>Farley</b> really was close friends with the Basque people and southern Newfoundland. The loyal, hearty French impression of his very real crony on that island was imprinted perfectly upon <i>Théo’s</i> fictional depiction. First immersing myself into the fictional realm, followed by recent acquisition of “<b>The Boat Who Wouldn't Float</b>”, is happenstance that I didn't know would be richly rewarding. I'm savouring the origins of the fiction!
It is rough going for this sailboat to travel anywhere, with something of a paranormal refusal to travel west from its homeland. That itself is a triumphant feat and the whole narrative very adeptly shows us a highly individualized way of thinking, turbulent but spectacular land and seascapes, and how easily this author fit in with all walks of life. The shipbuilding retrieval dogs were extraordinary too, whom <b>Farley & Claire</b> welcomed into their adventuresome fold of three.
I can't recall the last time I so thoroughly enjoyed a book. This one held me in rapt attention. From the opening lines through to the final word. I've read that Farley Mowat is a 'natural story teller' and I totally agree. I burst out in laughter so many times while reading this book, and often in public places. Thankfully most everyone on the plane was sleeping while I was trying unsuccessfully to contain my chuckles.
What did I find so amusing you might ask. Well, just about everything Mr. Mowat wrote. He can manage to turn the most sorry of stories into an award winning humorous novel.
This is the tale of his little Newfoundland boat that just didn't want to float. Whether it was the wood or the design, the Happy Adventurer was continually threatening to take Farley and his sailing companions down into the deep.
During the several years of fretting and sailing this little vessel, there were many times when Farley could have called it quits, but he perservered and eventually succeeded in turning her into a sea worthy ship. This true life story shows great spirit and tenacity.
I have several more books by Mr. Mowat that I am moving to the front of my reading list. I can't imagine why I haven't read any of these works earlier.
on May 30, 2000
This is a tremendous sea yarn told by an old salt with many years of sailing under his belt. Farley Mowat is not well known as a sailor perhaps, but as someone who has skippered his way along the Newfoundland coast and survived, he must be reasonably authentic. Like many inland-born Canadians, Mowat had not sailed a small boat at sea before arriving in Newfoundland after the war. However, he had done a lot of sailing on Lake Superior in his boyhood and youth, on a yacht his father owned and sailed for many years. And sailing appears to have been in his blood.
The tale of how he acquires this particular boat, then sails along the coast for the summer and finally brings it up the St-Lawrence Seaway all the way to Montreal, will please any lover of maritime fare. Among his many books, Mowat wrote a number of autobiographical ones, some of which are lighter in tone. "The Boat Who Wouldn't Float" is delightfully easy to read and, along with "The Dog Who Wouldn't Be"(the story of Mowat's childhood), gives interesting insights into the life of one of Canada's foremost writers.
on May 2, 1997
Farley Mowat has been accused of sitting in a Toronto bar while concocting these wonderfully stirring tales of the island rock, Newfoundland. Put your mind at ease, mates, and enjoy the book as a true treasure. I lived in Newfoundland for three years before discovering this book. I can heartily recommend you read it with good appetite! It is a cake mixed with truth skillfully told, covered with a frosting of humor, and served with a piquant flourish.These saltwater tales, revolving around Mowats' titanic struggle to find, refurbish and actually sail a boat determined to sink herself and all hands, are chalk full of laughs, tension, tragedy, and still more laughs. Its truths are better than any fiction.Haul up your anchor and sail away with this master storyteller as he outsalts the famed Royal Canadian Mounted Police, falls into the rummish cluthes of Screech, narrowly escapes icy death, and finds the beautiful maiden."The Boat Who Wouldn't Float" is a worthy vessel in which to sail the seas of leisure time. So fill your cup and drink deeply while the captain spins his tales
on April 22, 2002
Warning: Mowat's love of the sea, the people of Newfoundland, and his defiant schooner is contagious. A few pages in, and you'll feel like following in his footsteps. Wry anecdotes are coupled with fond sketches of the people of Newfoundland's outport communities at a turning point, shortly before many of these ancient, remote towns were completely uprooted in the name of government cost-cutting. Happily, thirty years after this book came out, I made of a couple trips to Newfoundland harbour communities and report that these warm, resilient folk will never change. If you can't make the trip yourself, then "lard jesus, bye" read this book! The last pages of the book do rush through years rather quickly, but remember that it's really a biography of a boat, and she wasn't doing much in those years. But when she was busy, the tales she could generate...
on March 16, 2002
I first read this book in middle school, and have re-read several times over the years. What I really liked about it was that, though Happy Adventure ... and Farley are the reason for the book, the real story and focus is on the Newfoundlanders and their way of life. Far more than you hear about Farley, you hear about Muddy Hole, "the boys of Burin", Farillon and Ferryland, and various other places, as well as the people who inhabit them. It's a delightful peek at another place and time, that still endures to this day.
I was recently delighted that I had read it, since I discovered the band Great Big Sea, which comes out of Newfoundland. Thanks to this book, I can understand their idiom, and recognize places that they sing about. It gives the music a richer feeling for me.
Both are worth spending your time on.
on March 24, 2001
this was a beautiful book about a time and a place and a world about which i knew little, and as usual farley mowat does his brilliant job of bringing it to life in full radiance, and of personifying the non-human in a unique and gripping way.
weak points: this book, more than the others i previously read by him, showed more about the real character of farley mowat, and in this book he struck me as a very unhappy man, both depressed and even alcoholic. i'm glad to have read it however, as it not only gives me insight into him as the author of this book, but into the underlying character of the author who wrote his other wonderful, and less dark, books.
also, honestly, this wasn't a particularly deep book. it sort of "appears" to be deep, but like his boat, sorta skims across the surface.
on March 16, 2001
Farley Mowat is the kind of writer whose words flow across the page as easily as breathing - and what a delight those words are! I've never sailed, I'm not a boat lover and yet I could not put down this true tale of one man's adventures getting a primitive vessel into seaworthy shape. Several pages had me laughing out loud, especially Mowat's account of drinking Screech, an alcoholic beverage of near deadly strength.While this book is classified as a "children's" book, I think it is far more suitable for adults, who may appreciate some of the humor here with an adult's perspective. Then again, if you have a reluctant reader, I can't think of a better book to keep him or her reading. I guess this book is actually for the WHOLE family.
on December 12, 2000
One dark and stormy night we pulled up to the Harborview Bed and Breakfast at the mouth of the Margaree River on Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia. The car headlights fell across the bow of "The Happy Adventure" of The Boat Who Wouldn't Float.The very vessel that was to transport Farley and his friend Jack to endless adventures in far away tropical islands but from the start refuses to leave Muddy Hole, Newfoundland(her birthing place).Farley Mowat is a master story teller and he is in top form as he yanks us aboard and sets sail. It's a mighty struggle to keep her afloat as she makes several attempts to commit nautical suicide but Farley is up to the task. He bullies,he cajoles and finally makes a deal she couldn't refuse.
on July 18, 2004
Farley Mowat is nothing if not persistent. After purchasing the Newfoundland schooner from Hell, badly misnamed as Happy Adventure, he finds he has a boat that leaks constantly, has a compass that doesn't know where magnetic north is, hates to head West, has an engine that works when it feels like it and that is just for starters. Much of the time sailing is in the fog, both real and self imposed. Most sane men would have turned this boat into kindling, but Mowat sailors on, one harrowing experience after another with an assortment of mates and in the process tells us a funny and true story of his adventures as only he can. Written over thirty years ago, the story has lost none of its charm and interest.