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Into the Blue Paperback – May 11 2004
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Entrusted with her late grandmother's personal papers, award-winning journalist Andrea Curtis became obsessed with learning the facts surrounding the sinking of the steamer J.H. Jones on Georgian Bay during a November gale in 1906. The captain, James Victor Crawford, was Curtis's great-grandfather, a man grandmother Eleanor described in a girlhood poem as a "pirate." Curtis's extensive search for clues as to the true nature of her heritage led her through public archives and familial memory, resulting in the disturbing discoveries laid bare in Into the Blue: Family Secrets and the Search for a Great Lakes Shipwreck.
An aspiring writer who was raised in a depressed Georgian Bay town by a tyrannical maiden aunt, educated at Berkeley and McGill, and ultimately married to a prominent Montreal divorce lawyer, Eleanor had always served Curtis as a romanticized role model. Given Eleanor's lifelong bitterness about the way her family was shunned by the Wiarton community following the loss of the J.H. Jones and the 40-odd souls aboard her, Curtis expected to unearth unsettling material implicating her great-grandfather in the disaster. What Curtis did not imagine was that she might find evidence that the true buccaneer in the Crawford family was Eleanor herself. "Whenever I think I know something for certain," she reflects, "I discover some new detail that alters the picture entirely. Things go in and out of focus, are illuminated, then disappear into the darkness before I can clutch them, make them my own."
Curtis devotes most of Into the Blue to the rich local lore surrounding the short-lived rise and prolonged fall of Wiarton and the maritime yarns that shed light on what might have happened to the Jones. The wrecked ship and most of her dead were never given up by the Bay. Yet it is Eleanor's personal story that clearly fascinates the granddaughter: "Eleanor didn't write much after her marriage to my grandfather Paul," she observes. "Perhaps she didn't have the time or mental space once my aunt and mother were born. Or maybe she found it too risky." --Deirdre Hanna --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“Compelling … Curtis manages to navigate her way around the kind of sentimentality that characterizes so many family memoirs…. Ultimately the metamemoir is a balancing act, a creation of Curtis’s insatiable curiosity.” -- Quill & Quire
“Curtis weaves the threads of fact and speculation together with the skill of a novelist … navigating the story with a deft, sure and sensitive touch, landing safely at a better understanding of herself and her family, in a beautifully realized narrative.” -- The Globe and Mail
“A blend of fact and remembrance, Into the Blue is a classic piece of Canadiana, a family drama and an absorbing read. A universal story, told so well, with such immensely effective writing skills, that readers will easily imagine they have known the fate of the Crawfords forever.” -- The Owen Sound Sun Times
“Into the Blue is a love letter to Georgian Bay disguised as a haunting family memoir. Curtis is a solid journalist with a great imagination.” -- National Post