Idea: Holding Fast is a memoir of an unconventional life spent sailing. Readers who aspire to similarly upend their circumstances in favor of a more nomadic lifestyle will welcome Cole's honest reflections.
Prose: The writing here is smooth and capably holds the reader's interest throughout.
Originality: Although memoirs of risk-taking adventures are familiar, Cole's story is deeply personal, detailed, and frequently inspiring.
Character/Execution: Both Cole and her husband, John, emerge as fully formed individuals on the page. The strength of their relationship is a particularly endearing element of the story.
Date Submitted: January 25, 2022
A wife follows her husband to sea and finds herself along the way in this memoir...A perfect, realistic counterpart to Amity Gaige’s Sea Wife (2020), Cole’s moving memoir is emotionally astute, and her use of excerpts from the Laughing Goat’s log provides welcome insights into John’s perspective...
This poignant account will resonate with readers who have loved someone who adores the sea.
Any woman who has ever bought into a partner's dream and embarked on a life-changing journey because of this decision will recognize themselves in Susan Cole's memoir Holding Fast. On the surface, it's a memoir about sailing. In reality, it's a foray into not just adventure, but loss, as a young family embarks on a trip that not only challenges conventional notions, but Cole's own trajectory in life.
From the start, sailing was her husband John's dream—not hers... From solo encounters with Hurricane Mitch, possibly stranded off-boat in a tropical paradise battered by uncertainty and winds, to a health crisis which brings with it unexpected reliance on the survival tactics the family honed on their little boat, readers are treated to a thoroughly absorbing story that embraces different facets of confronting life's unexpected moments...
The result is a vivid story of survival and adaptation that operates on many different levels, promising to attract not just readers of true-life adventure, but those who want stories of endurance and moving forward... highly recommended reading not just for memoir enthusiasts, but for those interested in stories of adventure, family, and survival.
Susan Cole and John Russell met in their 20s, while both were working at a market research firm in Greenwich, Connecticut. It was the 1970s. The attraction between the two seemed immediate, although they were married to others. Four years later, both would leave their spouses for one another and set out on a life together that would span 44 years, until John’s death.
It’s what happened in between that would become the adventure of their lives, when Susan finally succumbed to John’s single-minded quest to sail off into the sunset with him...
Susan, who lives in New Orleans now, has chronicled their adventure in her first book, “Holding Fast.”...