Casting off

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Zwei englische Bücher, lesenswert, aber eben auf Englisch. Daher auch eine englische Rezension.


This is almost a genre by itself: Girl in her thirties finds herself single, yet with many unfulfilled dreams, while all around her friends settle down with partners, babies and nine to five jobs to a boring suburban life. Crisis! Ironically, aforementioned girl in her 30s is yearning for the boring suburban life – just to prove that she, too, can find a partner and raise kids. I this case, and very probably not only in this, it is lucky that this does not happen. Enter Emma Bamford, journalist, aged 31 and, as she reports in her book, still struggling without much success to get her fourth date. She remains single, without babies and all the rest. However, being single also means: Freedom!


This is where the unfulfilled dreams kick in. The call of freedom, of adventure, in this case: The call of the sea. Emma quits her job as newsroom journalist for the London „Independent“ newspaper, breaks free of the ever more exhausting rat race and finds – well, this is where the book begins. Rather naively, she joins a single man on his boat in the Far East whom she only knows from an internet ad and, surprise, surprise, finds that he is more interested in romance with her than she is with him (and his cat). Still, they manage to get along so-so until she can jump ship to join a catamaran with an ever-changing crew. She also finds herself working not nine to five but more or less 24/7 as hostess on a large, luxury charter yacht in the Med. Along the way, she has her fair share of adventure, with pirates, sailors, nature and so on. Still, she quickly falls in love with the yachtie lifestyle, which she describes in detail. The awkwardness of living in a tiny space with other people, the indescribable beauty of tropical island anchorages and rain forests. The sailing, the moments out at sea, lost to the world, and the anxious times when the wind pipes up, the seas crash over the boat or the officialdom ashore becomes threatening. In short: The liveaboard life with all the romance and also all the very unromantic moments that come with it – in the end, however, to plus side is very definitively comes out on top.


This is a quick and easy read, reflective and humorous but without the self-pity that so often comes with similar tales. Remember, she is a professional in writing and she delivers her story in a cool, matter of fact prose that still has some of the newspaper feel about it: no endless, flowery descriptions of tropical sunsets. Instead, an honest report of how the life on boats was for her. How her adventure of running away to sea turned out for her – happy, in the end (which, for her, is just another beginning). How to break free and find things that are truly important in life. How to live your life on your own terms.


After her first book, “Casting off”, she published “Untie the lines”. I have not read that, yet, so this is what the publisher has to say about it: “Former stressed-out city girl and journalist Emma is living the dream. She’s in Malaysia, living on a yacht with handsome traveller Guy, and together they have plans to explore the world’s most remote and exotic places. Alright, so she has to ignore the niggling doubt that things didn’t quite work out the last time she went to stay with a stranger on his boat in Asia, but she’s quietly confident that this time things will be different.

She and Guy are literally sailing into the sunset together. Adventures in Asia, America and the Caribbean beckon. Life, free from the rat race and nine-to-five grind, couldn’t be more perfect. Or could it?
Eventually forced to return to London, to her old, crippling, fast-paced world, Emma finds herself struggling with anxiety and panic attacks and losing the battle between head and heart. Running, or sailing, away is just not an option any more. 

Untie the Lines, the sequel to Casting Off, is a beautifully written, often funny, story for those who dream of escape, adventure and an unshackled life. But it is also a deeply moving tale about recognising the need to be true to yourself, and to live a balanced life – for without balance, we fall.“

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Casting Off

Untie the Lines

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