In ‘The Sound of Water’ Valerie Davies tells of two years lived vividly and deeply in a little New Zealand fishing village, where the birdsong, the seasons, the flowers and the storms are the backdrop to family life, to the inner life, to the enjoyment of food, books and history.
She writes of pleasures and depression, reunions with lost friends, memories of life in war-time England and post-war Germany, and encounters with both the famous and the forgotten.
She talks of surviving the Blitz in a sea-side hamlet near a frequently bombed naval base war-time England, living at Belsen in the Beast of Belsen’s flat, making music in Malaya as a school girl in the Cameron Highlands, and struggling with a broken marriage in Hong Kong.
It’s also a lively look at history, the causes of the First and Second World Wars, with interesting little-known facts, side-trips to the American Civil War and staying in a haunted hostel at Waterloo. It’s a lively look too, at intriguing people from ballerinas to musicians, statesmen to writers, ballerinas Baronova and Lopokova, harmonica player Larry Adler, Christian Barnard’s law-suit, Nehru and Lady Mountbatten’s love affair, Frances Partridge and many others.
Food figures greatly, with tempting recipes and mouth-watering meals, while books which range from the spiritual to history, favourite novels and writers, are savoured and assessed with idiosyncratic enjoyment.
If you love books, this is a book for you.
The sound of the sea echoes through every day of this part diary, part journal, part memoir. It’s a contemplative book about mindfulness, in the broad sense that it is about being aware and being conscious of the present. It savours day-to-day life, the little details as well as the vast panorama of history – in fact, it’s a celebration of life with some humour, some sadness and much enjoyment!
In the introduction Valerie quotes the poet Antonio Machado saying ‘Travellers, there is no path, paths are made by walking.’ This is her walk.