"Trading life in the fast lane of Johannesburg for that of Rotterdam's serene Oude Haven, Valerie Poore packs all her worldly possessions aboard the historic Dutch barge Hoop and sets about rebuilding both the boat and her life after divorce – and rediscovering herself and her own capabilities in the process.
Along the journey of renovation she is joined by an array of characters, including two dogs and a rather adventurous cat, a smiling but absent-minded ‘landlord’, a quirky friend and confidante, and an olde worlde charmer whose mastery at the helm wins more than just her respect. Before long Val has to learn to cope with the strenuous demands of acting as Skipper's Mate during numerous nail-biting adventures – frequently with hilarious effect.
When the Hoop, her rented home, is sold, Valerie relishes the new challenge of hunting down the Vereeniging, another picturesque barge aboard which she builds herself a new home and learns that, when life on the waterways is threatened by rust and insurance critics, it is those who band together to help who make the lifestyle so worthwhile.
Valerie’s touchingly sincere story is one of discovery and friendship, endurance and love and, most importantly, never allowing the landlubbers to get you down!"
What was of particular interest to me is the setting, totally unfamiliar to me - a barge in a Rotterdam harbour, and the rivers and canals of the Netherlands. And Valerie really gets her hands dirty. There's a lot of work to be done on the two barges which are her home in this book, and she doesn't shy away from hard work! But this is very much a book about people, too, and the community in which the writer lives. It's a good mix, and I found it thoroughly engrossing. And a great plus in my judgment is that it's a well-written book by an author who cares about words. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
Valerie also maintains a fascinating blog at vallypee.blogspot.co.uk.
(...where my book can also be found!)