Review: Swept – Love with a Chance of Drowning

I’d never heard of Torre DeRoche until a couple of months ago when she popped up on a travel bloggers forum that I frequent.  Quick witted and hilarious, she blew a hurricane of fresh air through the stuffy confines of that group and I immediately became a raving fan.

When I discovered that she had just self-published a book (a real one … with paper and everything) about facing her fears and sailing half way round the world despite hating the ocean, I had a feeling I might just enjoy it.

Several late nights and extended lunch hours clutching my Kindle later, I realised that in actual fact I didn’t just like it.

I f*cking loved it.

At the ripe old age of 25 Torre arrived in San Francisco in search of herself and a life outside her comfort zone.  Well, she certainly got that.  There were only two promises that she made to her friends and family before she left Australia:

    1. Do not fall in love with an American man.
    2. Come home in one year.

A night out with friends and a dirty martini served to put a pretty decent dent in those plans – although technically, at least, the man was Argentinian.  Project manager by trade and dreamer by default, on their first date Ivan revealed his crazy plan – to sail around the planet in a 32 foot yacht named Amazing Grace.  There was no way in hell that a city girl petrified of sharks would even consider doing something so ridiculous … which made it all the more surprising when she found herself motoring out of Marina del Ray towards the island of Catalina one day with the stink of diesel in her nostrils and the splash of dolphins off the bow.

That little trip sowed the seeds for the kind of adventure that most of us secretly dream of, and almost none of us ever have.

A few months later an elated Ivan and freaked-out Torre cast off the mooring lines for good and headed out into the Pacific.  The sun was shining, the water was smooth and everything was wonderfully right with the world.  Well, for a day or two anyway, until the first storm hit and the first wave of seasickness followed shortly thereafter.  It would prove to be far from the last of either.

Swept paper boat

With the trade winds in their sails our unlikely heroes set a path for those impossibly small patches of green in a massive expanse of blue – the islands of the South Pacific.  As the weeks ticked by and Ivan found new and inventive ways to injure himself while not catching fish, Torre discovered that even with the fear, vomiting and lack of mangoes she was unexpectedly having the time of her life.

Despite a lack of experience, as the couple island-hopped their way from one tropical paradise to another they somehow managed to avoid running either their yacht or their relationship onto the rocks – although at times coming perilously close to both.  Making new friends amongst the friendly islanders and fellow sea gypsies, living a simple existence amongst the beautiful beaches and coves, this was the kind of lifestyle from which dreams are made.

Eventually however, Torre was forced to face the realisation that no matter how much she had grown to love her new world, her little boat and the man with salt in his veins, she was always going to be a city girl at heart.  Ultimately she had to make a decision – would she sign up for a life on the ocean, or would the pull of friends, family and good coffee pull her back in the direction of Australia?

Swept is fast paced, fun and fantastic, and Torre has a wit and turn of phrase that made reading this book a rare delight.  I found myself laughing out loud regularly – kind of embarrassing while sitting at my desk at work pretending I was working, but there you go.  Turning the pages felt like nothing so much as sitting in a cafe having a chat about life with a hilarious, slightly off-beat friend.  I swear I could almost taste the salt spray on my lips as Amazing Grace battled through the swells, and feel the elation as a whale danced alongside the boat in a deserted bay.

This is not really a story about sailing.  It is not really a story about travel.  It is a story about love – the love between two people, the love of adventure, the love of confronting your fears and realising that you are capable of doing so much more than you ever believed you could.

All you need to do is cast off the lines that tie you to shore and set yourself free to try.

[Images courtesy of Torre DeRoche]

Torre has been kind enough to offer a signed copy of the book to one lucky reader of this blog. If you would like the chance to win what is almost certainly the best travel book I have read this year, just share this post with your friends and leave a comment below to let me know.  I’ll pick a winner at random next week!

If you aren’t the fortunate winner or just can’t wait that long, you can buy both the paperback and Kindle editions of Love with a Chance of Drowning from Amazon.

14 Responses to “Review: Swept – Love with a Chance of Drowning

  • I cannot wait to read “Swept”! I came across Torre’s blog a few months ago and have been following her updates on the book release. I just know this book is going to be magic!!! Glad you enjoyed it so much 😀 Fingers crossed to win this one!

  • I have been wanting to read Torre’s book since I heard about her self-publishing story and have shared news of its publication with fellow travelers. What an incredible adventure! I am so glad you enjoyed it lots – and thank you for the give-away!

  • Pick me, pick me! I love her blog. “Fresh breath of air” is right.

  • Count me in, I’ve been following Torre’s blog for the past while after stumbling upon some great photography.

  • Sounds like an awesome story, we’d love to win the book 🙂

  • I would love to participate in the giveaway! I think it’s great that she’s self-published and has been able to get people aware ofh er book.

  • Torre’s book cerrtainly sounds like an awesome read! I love how this girl writes on her blog, so I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy this book. 🙂

  • Lindsey
    7 years ago

    I have been waiting for her book to come out and after reading your review now I can’t wait! Thanks for reviewing and having the contest! Fingers crossed for the autographed copy! 🙂

  • This sounds like the perfect book for me to read as I am about to turn 25 and about to embark on my own life-changing and soul-searching experience in Martinique! I will definitely start reading Torre’s blog and would love the chance to win a copy of Swept!

  • Michelle
    7 years ago

    I could do with being “swept” out of my current world. Sounds like a great read!

  • Torre writes her blog in such an honest and open minded way that I always can’t wait for her next instalment. I can imagine that her book will be just as addictive to read and I’d love to learn about her adventures and experiences at sea.

  • I put the link on my Twitter page. This book sounds amazing. I didn’t know this book was a true story! I would love to win, fear is such a part of everyday life, and Torre seems to throw that completely out the door here. Its very brave. Thanks!

  • And the winner(s) was: Dani and Jess from the Globetrotter Girls! Congratulations … now all they need to do is stay in one place long enough to receive the book!

    For those of you who didn’t win, make sure you stop by Amazon and pick up a copy of the book – it’ll help Torre out no end and be one of the best reads you’ve had in a long time. Promise! 😉

  • Woohoo. Dave—thanks for running the review and the competition. Dani and Jess, you’ll be getting a present from me shortly!

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