“Water Water All Around: Paddling European Countries Sea to Sea” by Beth A. Smith Book Review

By Ruth on June 29, 2013 in book, review

Water Water cover

ISBN 978-1-62137-080-2 (Hardcover), $23.99. 978-1-62137-081-9 (Softcover), $15.99. 333 pages 
“Water Water All Around” is a series of adventures by a lone senior woman kayaker. Each of the nine European countries that sport waterways across their surface from sea to sea is incorporated here as individual challenges. Very little is left out of the daily entries so that the kayaker or cyclist or the walker can easily follow the dialog or the maps at the chapter heads to find their way across the chosen country. But this is not a travel guide. It is a true adventure fraught with difficulties apart from actual paddling and not excluding equipment failure. It is about endurance and dogged determination—about fear, frustration, and fatigue and about wrong turns and wrong decisions. It’s all here candidly presented and mixed with a glimpse of the countryside. The author, born and raised in California, still makes her home near the water of San Francisco Bay.

Water Water All Around: Paddling European Countries Sea to SeaWater Water All Around: Paddling European Countries Sea to Sea by Beth A Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me say from the beginning that this is a certified clean book–absolutely no profanity nor sex scenes. So you can feel good about reading this, and even your teenagers can read it (although it may not be their style). I was quite excited to get the opportunity to read a travelogue, and that is exactly how this reads. It is told as a narrative of the author’s kayaking adventures. She took copious notes, so I believe that is why the account is so detailed.

Permit me to say that I know nothing about kayaking, and I know very little of the intricacies of the European countries she visited. I have only had the supreme honor of visiting England, and so I had an easier time connecting with this portion of the story. The other countries are known to me through history and reputation.

I was completely impressed with the author’s journey. She did something that I would not even consider doing, if the truth be known. She was willing to put up with hardships, setbacks, and general uncomfortable conditions. And for me, I would go to those countries for sightseeing, not kayaking. But that is merely a personal preference.

The only real issue I had with the book is that I often found I could not connect with the story. Sometimes I was even bored. Don’t get me wrong–it reads exactly like a journal or narrative of quite an adventure. Notwithstanding, I wish the author had given us more glimpses into who she really is. On the rare occasions when we caught that glimpse, I wanted to know more. I care less about the route she traveled and what canal she took and more about what makes her tick. I also recommend reading a physical copy of the book. My kindle did not do the pictures nor the maps justice. On the positive side, it was truly comforting to see how many people were willing to help her along the way, regardless of the country.

Although I can certainly universally recommend this book, I believe that if this book were an audio or video book, I would have been much more entertained.

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.

View all my reviews

Interested in learning more?  Check out the author’s site here,  and buy the book here.

About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher


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