by Margaret Beames
Fifty South will appeal to anyone interested in the history of New Zealand, maritime exploration, or survival in the outdoors.
Margaret Beames paints a clear picture of the 1907 shipwreck of the sailing ship Dundonald on a remote island not far from Antarctica. Conditions are bleak. The story is told largely through the eyes of the protagonist, Charlie Eyre, a 21 year old able-bodied seaman. The characters are drawn from factual historical records, but come to life as they show courage, endurance, and determination to do their best in order to survive.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this account and I especially liked the author’s simple way of describing early technology, such as using a sextant to measure the angle between the sun and the horizon, for navigation.
Margaret Beames has chosen to write in the past tense, without dialogue, in order to present a historical account. At the same time, she portrays the humour, optimism, and disappointment, a medley of emotions, in the lives of these strong characters who are intent on doing the best they can in an apparently hopeless situation.
The timeless values of courage and teamwork are honoured in Fifty South. I think that anyone who enjoys sailing, or who has ever been lost when hiking, will be able to relate especially well to this fascinating story of survival.
Author: Margaret Beames
Trade paperback, 145 pages, black and white illustrations.
Publisher: Rangitawa Publishing.
Available: Amazon.com; Barnes and Noble; www.rangitawapublishing.com