Thursday, July 14, 2011

Non-Fiction: The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet

Half a century after the debut publication of The Curve of Time, the first person account of a young widow’s travels with her five children on a 25-foot coastal cruiser of the shores of British Columbia still captivates.

“This is neither a story nor a log,” Muriel “Capi” Blanchet began her memoir, still an enchanting favorite of many readers so many years after the initial publication in 1961, “it is just an account of many long summer months, when the children were young enough and old enough to take on camping holidays up the coast of British Columbia. Time did not exist; or if it did it did not matter, and perhaps it was not always sunny.”

Fifty years on, Blanchet’s words endure as does the spirit that sent her afloat. Blanchet weaves her family’s experiences with local history and even snippets of a kind of erstwhile philosophy. Though the book was published 50 years ago, Capi had piloted the Caprice years before: in the late 1920s and early 30s. And the curve or our time to hers, and hers to the time she writes about resonates throughout the book.

There are so many remarkable things about The Curve of Time that it’s impossible to isolate the single thing that has made this book such an enduring regional bestseller. Blanchet’s voice is charming and sure. And there is something fiercely wholesome in Capi’s prose. Something that touches and moves us forward.
Where are you coming from? Where are you going? I would wave a vague hand behind me. “Oh, from the south,” I would say evasively, or, “Oh, just up north -- nowhere in particular.”

What did it matter to anyone where we went? We ourselves usually had some idea where we intended to go. But we seldom stuck to our original intentions -- we were always being lured off to other channels.

Sometimes that wasn’t our fault.
Whitecap Books delivers a gorgeous 50th Anniversary Edition of The Curve of Time that includes a new afterword by Blanchet’s daughter-in-law, Eileen. Those who have loved this book in the past will enjoy the opportunity to get reacquainted. And if you’ve missed it altogether, now is your chance. A wonderful celebration of the open road… on the water. ◊

Linda L. Richards is editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.

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