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Book Review Friday – Sailing Down the Moonbeam by Mary Gottschalk


By Patricia Zick @PCZick

On Author Wednesday, I interviewed Mary Gottschalk who wrote the memoir, Sailing Down the Moonbeam. Today I’m pleased to review the book that captures several years in the 1980s when Mary and her husband Tom embarked on an adventure to sail the world for five years. I thought it would be a travel memoir, but instead I discovered the book is the memoir of a marriage with the travel providing the setting and the sailing serving as a metaphor for the troubled relationship.Cover lg

Mary and Tom decide to set sail from New York City for five years. Idealistic, romantic, and downright scared at times, they do what many of us only talk about doing if we won the lottery. When I told my husband the basic premise of the book, he asked, “Are they still married?” I told him he’d have to read the book to find out the answer. Mary states in the beginning that the stats for couples enduring life on long cruises is “not encouraging.”

Thankfully, Mary kept a journal of the journey, which eventually she turned into this memoir. Let her example be a lesson to all authors or those interested in writing a memoir of events in the past: Write in a journal just to keep track of all the details that will fade from our minds but not from the page. Her descriptive details of the sea and its living world are precise and graphic, which creates word photos for the reader. Here’s one description of her view as they left Boot Key.

“As we made our last trip out through the lush mangrove-lined channel, Tom had the helm, his even more faded orange-and-yellow hat shielding his balding head from the blazing Florida sun. Manatees cavorted among the roots of the trees. Pelicans sat stolidly on the wooden pilings, waiting for the right moment to pluck lunch from the water. Raucous frigate birds were everywhere, flying madly about, hitting the water like torpedoes when they saw fish. Through it all, white ibis stood by like pieces of sculpture, regally taking it all in.”

Without her journal notes, these literary and literal images would be impossible to recall after more than a two-decade gap in the experience and the publishing of her memoir.

Equally descriptive is Mary’s examination of her marriage with Tom. The relationship rides the continual waves of emotion as two people learn to live and function in a cabin on a 37-foot sailboat. Mary touches on many truisms of marriages, and I felt myself nodding my head often while reading the book. Miscommunication (or no communication), different agendas, and competitive spirits collide during the sea trip. Sometimes it was painful to look so closely into the intimate portrait – only because it reminded me of my first marriage that ended in divorce after twenty-six years. So many hurts, disappointments, and infractions build up over the years until they stifle the partners or explode the relationship into tiny pieces of shrapnel.

The emotion I felt during the reading this book is a tribute to Gottschalk’s honesty, descriptive portraits of people and place, and an immaculate writing style.

I recommend Sailing Down the Moonbeam, even you don’t sail. I don’t sail, but I sure loved living vicariously for a short while. I asked the author about her record keeping, and she assured me she didn’t use everything in this book. Good news – perhaps she’ll write more on sailing the seas, both literally and figuratively.





I’m on a Virtual Book Tour this week with Trails in the Sand  – Visit tour stops to enter giveaway

I’m on “tour” April 22-29 to celebrate the forty-third anniversary of Earth Day and to celebrate the publication of Trails in the Sand. At each stop, you’ll be able to enter a raffle for an exciting giveaway at the end of the tour. I’m giving away a package of autographed copies of both Live from the Road and Trails in the Sand, along with a Route 66 baseball cap, a Trails in the Sand magnet, all wrapped in a “green” grocery bag donated by fellow blogger Betsy Wild at What’s Green with Betsy. The bags were designed by Where Designs.???????????????????????????????

The Tour Schedule for April 26 – Check out these blogs today and enter to win the tour giveaway.

April 26

BestsellerBound Recommends features an interview with me using “M” words to describe myself. Maria Savva and Darcia Helle created this blog to showcase Indie Authors and to provide a place for Indies to gather.



  1. This book sounds beautiful, as is the your description and depiction of it, PC. Your attention to detail makes for a very enticing appetizer to Mary’s novel.


  2. […] Review Friday – Sailing Down the Moonbeam by Mary […]


  3. […] Mary Gottschalk who appeared on Writing Whims more than a year ago. I reviewed her first book Sailing down the Moonbeam, a memoir from her time of living on a sailboat while her marriage crumbled around her.  Now Mary […]


  4. […] A Fitting Place works on many levels. I found myself pushing for certain outcomes of the book (no spoilers here), but then sat back and enjoyed the writing of Gottschalk. She’s just as meticulous in her prose in this book as she was in her memoir Sailing Down the Moonbeam. […]


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