I didn’t know what to expect when I got this book. I loved the title and the unique idea of a floating bookshop/barge. I was intrigued. Sarah Henshaw had little knowledge of boats and their navigation when she set out for six months along unknown waterways with only a map. But wasn’t alone. She was accompanied on The Book Barge by a strong sense of freedom, and a determination to enjoy life and its endless possibilities.
The Book Barge, which is still afloat today, carries scars of battles lost and won to stay on the water (although at times it floats away). Towards this end is a constant bartering of books for food and toilet facilities, or a bed at stops along waterways where Sarah is forced to work the locks single-handed.
Dark days overshadow the brilliance of the topography, meeting eccentric characters, and sharing her book knowledge and endless cups of tea with strangers. There is the impact on personal relationships and the financial strain when the venture isn’t bringing in much-needed money.
Many anecdotes around private issues transform into light-hearted entertainment in this inspiring and life-changing journey full of challenges. She treasures the memorable meetings with unbelievable people and shares her hilarious situations and stories. As it ends, the reader will be forced to ask: is all this possible?
The Bookshop That Floated Away is told in sharp, articulate narrative. The extraordinary metaphors and detailed descriptions highlight Henshaw’s command of language and establish her well-read history.
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis
Title: The Bookshop That Floated Away
Author: Sarah Henshaw
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: July 2014 $19.99 RRP
ISBN: 9781472108050Type: Non Fiction