Unofficial CANLit ambassador Fay Devlin in Torshavn, Faroe Islands, engrossed in Tumblehome, which she then left behind for other travellers to enjoy. See review by its next reader, Alessandra, below.
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A fantastic read! Tumblehome was very thought-provoking and touched me deeply. Brenda’s brilliant style of writing had me journeying right alongside her; experiencing the excitement, adventures, fear, turbulence and emotion. The book left me wondering what the following decades have in store for her. Sure hope we all get to find out!
—Mary Zilney, a non-camper
I’ve stayed up way too late the last two nights reading Tumblehome. Your honesty, insights and openness are brave and wonderful and inspiring.
Tumblehome is a refreshing read, as Brenda is very open with her writing and shares so many of her reflections on her personal experiences. Her life’s journey has certainly taken some interesting turns, with some very significant up and downs. I am especially enjoying reading her thoughts as she relates them against the backdrop of her canoe experiences. Her descriptive passages are beautifully written, and she certainly has not only a passion for writing but also the creative skill and expertise to “paint pictures with words.” I think it will be a book on my bookshelf that I will revisit many times over.
I giggled, I shed many tears, I was completely enraptured by all your experiences and thoughts. You have such an awesome gift for writing. I could have read it in a couple of days, but I wanted to savour each chapter as there was so much to absorb and enjoy. Thank you for sharing your very personal experiences, as well as reminding us of the importance of loving and being kind to ourselves, our fellow humans, and our world (Mother Earth), with all its wonderful creatures.
—Nancy Beverly, a non-biased sister
I’ve just finished Tumblehome. (Amazing title, by the way.) It was a pure delight! I enjoyed the narrative structure. The focus on your inner journey was so easy to relate to. I loved your beautiful and insightful nature writing. More please! And you’ve inspired me to do a solo trip even if it’s only car camping to Achray [in Algonquin Park].
I finished Tumblehome in two days, as we say in Italy “tutto d’un fiato” (in one breath). So many words captured my attention, so many thoughts. And it was like you were speaking to me, sitting on the shore of the lake, exchanging our lives. Yes, your pages were lively!
—Alessandra Costantini (who read Tumblehome on the Faroe Islands, thanks to the generosity of my friend Fay, who was travelling there and brought along a hot-off-the-press copy to leave behind for others to enjoy. If you happen to be in the Faroe Islands, have a look for it!)
If someone had told me that I would enjoy a memoir written by a woman about her solo canoe trips in the wilderness while she explores the romantic and spiritual dilemmas that weigh on her, I would have concluded they didn’t know me very well. I approached the book with trepidation, but was genuinely engrossed very early on and surprised to discover how much of a page-turner it was. The events that unfold are often frightful and some are jaw-dropping. But aside from the gripping narrative, I truly felt I was travelling alongside the author, on the water, over the land, and through various life quandaries and mysteries.
I’m neither a tripper nor a spiritual-seeker and I’m not a woman. But the book resonated deeply with me. I felt I was accompanying a close friend as we made our way through a series of highs and lows. Being transported into the wilderness and into someone else’s life was illuminating and rewarding on many levels and I still can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it was about the writing, the stories, the personal disclosures and candour that sucked me in, although it was clearly all of those elements combined.
This memoir is so much richer and bigger than I expected, and its impact so much more profound than I was prepared for. I’ve already bought a number of copies to share with the people close to me in the hope and prediction that they will be as immersed and touched as I was.
—Ted Cadsby, corporate director and best-selling author, most recently of Hard to Be Human
This book is a work of art! The author not only takes us on her canoeing journey, but also her spiritual journey. Brenda writes beautifully! I highly recommend this book. Even if you are not a canoeist you will enjoy this memoir.
—Barb Godin (originally reviewed on amazon.ca)
Brenda Missen has written a compelling memoir of adventures canoeing solo in Algonquin Provincial Park intertwined with soul searching, spirituality, and our universal search for love and acceptance. This is a story that will inspire you to explore nature and your deepest thoughts about relationships and finding your own path to serenity.
—Susan Hill (originally reviewed on amazon.ca)
Such a phenomenal heart-filled work of art! Read a friend’s copy. Can’t wait for more stock so I can read it again! [Author’s note: there’s more stock now]
—Chris Hyland (originally reviewed on amazon.ca)
I simply devoured your book over the weekend. I applaud you for so many reasons – your honesty, your courage to confront all your lifelong preconceptions, your spiritual seeking journey, your ability to brave the wilderness on your own… I could go on. As a lifelong spiritual seeker, myself, your journey resonated with me so much, even if we have been on separate journeys. We all grew up with so many assumptions hardwired into our brains through institutions, and parental guidance and these can be so binding and limiting and there is a lot of pressure to conform. So bravo for sharing your private and very personal journey with the world – that in itself takes courage.
I had the privilege of reading your first book, Tell Anna She’s Safe, and now your magical human-spirit exploration of self and connection to all living things in Tumblehome… Including the chronological maps and photo of your adventures made your personal journey of growth and connection to the soul that much more intense… You are brave and honour your life with a true knowing of where and how you shine. Thank you for shining your Tumblehome constellations.
Congratulations on an amazing accomplishment! The quality of your writing made the reading of the book effortless. Even though solo canoeing and near-wilderness camping hold no appeal for me, I was thoroughly intrigued by your adventures, and enjoyed visualizing the many settings you described so beautifully. I also found the characters you encountered well-portrayed and multi-dimensional even if the incidents were relatively brief. So kudos and bravo and many thanks for giving us Tumblehome.
As a former camper, canoer and tree planter, Tumblehome evoked strong and wonderful memories of being surrounded by nature, and as I followed Brenda on her emotional journey, I really felt her highs and lows, and found myself deeply appreciating how hard she worked to find her unique path to joy.
—Award-winning author Maureen Fergus
I loved reading Tumblehome. I was surprised at how emotional my reaction was to your writings of your childhood relationship with your God at that time. I could relate to your religious and spiritual journey, and itt brought forth, to explore, some undiscovered strong feelings related to my own childhood relationship. I so admired, respected, and was informed by your honesty and courage in writing of your own personal relationships: the challenges, joys, and griefs. And of course so loved all your descriptions of the natural environments you experienced and tales of canoe, wind, sky, forests, water, wildlife that filled all my senses and have stayed with me to readily call up. Soulfully beautiful.
—Paul Jackson (Huntsville, Ontario)
I finished your book last night, Tumblehome. I thoroughly enjoyed the read, particularly after Joy joined you in the canoe.
—Paul Caffyn, renowned New Zealand sea kayaker and author of various books about his solo expeditions, including The Dreamtime Voyage, chronicling his solo circumnavigation of Australia
I have just finished Tumblehome and enjoyed it thoroughly. You write beautifully, it was easy to read and I loved your descriptions of nature. It was especially fun to read about your adventures with Joy, your little protector. The intimacy with nature certainly was a spiritual experience and you came through BIG time. Congratulations.
I finished your fabulous book … filled with insight, inspiration and amazing writing that keeps you reading! So much of it resonated with me. Thank you for being an inspiration.
—Sharon McIntyre (Kensington, PEI)