Drawn to the Rhythm - Sara Hall


Mark Haddon

"A deep book filled with insight and encouragement"




I was intrigued when I first read a synopsis of this book - most of the rowing books I have read to date focus on male rowers; with that comes all of the male competitiveness and comradary.  Women typically tend to approach things in a different way and with the other, Sara Hall, being a 43 year old mother, she definitely didn't fit in with the stereotypes of someone competing for their University or country.

When actually reading this book, I had mixed feelings.  Much of the book is focussed on Sara's constricting marriage and I found that part of her story quite touching.  Over the course of her 10/15 year marriage, she had to suffer a dominating husband who seemed focussed on crushing her sense of independence and sense of self.  However, it was enlightening is see her find herself again as she first sat in a single scull.

On the flip side, some of her talk of rowing I found tremendously irritating or preachy!  Some of it is perhaps the American terminology, which not quite the same as the British lingo.  However, some of it is her sense of superiority over other rowers as a single sculler.  Many times she makes reference to sculling, especially in a single, as being the most technically difficult type of rowing.  Without disputing that it is hard, having struggled in a pair or very un-balanced four for many an outing, rowing in sweep boats or with others can be equally as challenging.  In fact, it is often easier to resolve problems when the only variable is yourself!

Further, she regularly refers to some of the American competitions as the most challenging in the world when, in fact, there are many equally as challenging events in the UK.  One particular quotation which grated on me was a reference to the Head of the Charles as "...the most technically challenging endurance race in the world."  At three miles it will demand excellence endurance but no more so than racing the Head of the River Races on the Tideway in London (the Tideway/Boat Race course standing at 4.25 miles).  Perhaps I am being a little picky / patriotic but whilst she had a great knowledge of rowing, it seemed to only be of the sport on the North American continent.

Despite my gripes, it was enjoyable to read and her laid-back perspective on things and her strength through her failing marriage were inspiring.  Much of what she acheived was just by doing what she loved and trying to do the best she could.

I will confess, I did abandon this book for a month or so mid-way through because I started to get bored.  However, when didn't read it too intensely, I found it more enjoyable and would recommend it to those who have an interest in a woman battling to re-gain control of her own life.



Reviewed on 09/05/2009 by Angela


Reviewed item details

ISBN: 0393324540

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