When Countrywise presenter Paul Heiney's son, Nicholas, committed suicide aged 23, Paul and his wife, Times columnist Libby Purves, were rocked to the core. Nicholas had been a highly gifted, promising young man, although he had struggled to keep his head above water at times as severe depression slowly dragged him down over many years.
Nicholas was a keen sailor, with several of his posthumously published writings having a nautical theme. To try to reconnect with this happier memory of his son, Paul decides to set out - alone - on a voyage he would have liked them to have embarked upon together.
Cape Horn is the sailor's Everest. One of the most remote and bleak parts of the world, it takes courage, physical strength, and mental fortitude to face its tempestuous seas, violent winds, and barren landscape. During the voyage Paul finds a peace of mind and a way to face the future without his son.
Poignant, moving, funny, thought provoking, and beautifully written, Paul's account of setting his own course through seemingly insurmountable grief makes for a powerful story. Injected with humor, perceptiveness, and philosophy, recounting his highs, lows, frustrations, and triumphs, the honesty and openness of Paul's story makes this very personal account a universal tale.
This was a brilliantly crafted book. If you are interested in sailing, it was perfect, but to add the human dimension made it even more compelling. I strongly recommend.
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If you could sum up One Wild Song in three words, what would they be?
Brave, foolhardy, profound.
What was one of the most memorable moments of One Wild Song?
There are many. The moments where Paul Heiney's deceased son is 'with' Paul at times during the voyage. I thought he was just a TV presenter. I had no idea that he's a skilled sailor and to take on an epic voyage around Cape Horn is mind blowing.
Which character – as performed by Gareth Armstrong – was your favourite?
He's Paul Heiney's voice.
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
One man's epic journey.
Any additional comments?
One of the most memorable books I've ever read. 18,000 miles from Falmouth to Cape Horn and back, taken in stages. Paul describes the physical trials and tribulations with enthusiasm. Muggings, torn muscles and difficulties finding safe haven around an inhospitable coast are taken in his stride. He brings the voyage vividly to life, along with the people he encounters. But in addition to that, the listener shares the heartbreak he's suffering following the death by suicide of his talented son Nicholas. He struggles to make sense of his death and come to terms with life without the young man. Its never maudlin; it's a thoughtful and often touching account and one which pays homage to a young life lost too soon. It's prompted me to look at other work by his wife Libby Purves and his late son, Nicholas. I can't recommend this highly enough.
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