Still Wa­ter Bend­ing

By Wendy Mit­man Clarke (2017; Head to Wind Pub­lish­ing; $17)

Cruising World - - Underway - —Michael Robert­son

Some of you may rec­og­nize Wendy Mit­man Clarke’s name; she is a con­tribut­ing editor for this magazine, and her by­line was fea­tured monthly for a few years while she and her fam­ily voy­aged aboard their 45-foot sloop, Osprey. Full-dis­clo­sure: I was a fan of her writ­ing way back then and I was ea­ger to open this novel about mar­itime lives lived on Ch­e­sa­peake Bay. Though dis­ap­point­ment is of­ten a prod­uct of high ex­pec­ta­tions, Still Wa­ter Bend­ing blew me away.

Still Wa­ter Bend­ing is a story of a young woman and her fa­ther, both dam­aged and hard­ened, one by an un­fair child­hood, the other by loss and the un­com­pro­mis­ing forces of change wrought on a fishing com­mu­nity. But their jour­ney is a hope­ful one, and Clarke guides us along a path rich in boats and wa­ter and fishing and, ul­ti­mately, ful­fill­ment.

Clarke is an award-win­ning poet, and her sen­tences flow and soothe and ef­fort­lessly con­vey those un­spo­ken thoughts and emo­tions that be­long to her char­ac­ters but that are fa­mil­iar to ev­ery reader with a heart. Over and over, I pulled back from a sen­tence or para­graph to un­der­stand how Clarke had done what she’d just done.

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