Book Review: The Voyage, by Philip Caputo

Where to begin? The main segment, 375 pages of this novel, is a brilliantly written and erudite but confusing series of vivid short stories connecting the lives and adventures of three brothers who set out on a voyage on the family schooner, the Double Eagle - a 46-footer and very nicely made boat. They end up taking along a family friend who serves as the navigator and seek to understand Cyrus, their aloof and cold New England Yankee father who thereafter simply vanishes and does not make contact with them any longer. Their adventures include the usual side-stories of stops along the way and storms at sea, plus an unusually severe hurricane. So far, so good, although it's hard to see where all this leads.

The reader surely could use a family tree, but that would give away the plot, which is complex. It peels away slowly (sort of) as it unfolds in the 36-page epilogue. which is told by a female member of the family, when she tries to untangle and understand her ancestors, including the brothers' mother who was a southern belle from South Carolina. Along the way, several interesting characters are developed including Artemis, a mixed-race Bahamian who worked for the father as a diver when Cyrus was a treasure hunter who salvaged maritime wrecks. The main character, other than the brothers themselves, is Lockwood, who is their half-brother, but as the story develops, is more.

The story sort of (for me) jumps off tracks a bit when Will develops a relationship with a Cuban girl. Stranded in Cuba, the boys contact an American diplomat in Cuba who helps them return to the US and eventually to Boston. This is a complex story, with an ingenious plot which is unspooled long after the main characters are dead. It takes some dedication to keep up with it, but the effort is worth it.

2 Responses

  1. JK James George
    From Anon-1: I guess it's a novel though you didn't say. Caputo wrote a novel - his first published work as I recall, about a soldier in Vietnam who took off and was being sought by the protagonist. I thought it was excellent, though I don't remember much more about it other than what I am just described . I thought he was a good writer, so perhaps I will pick this one up. Tnx fer the review.
    • JK James George
      Hmm. Did just now edit the review and add that it's a novel. Thanks for catching that! JKG

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