The International Writers Magazine: Review
Year of Sundays:
Taking the Plunge (and our cat) to Explore Europe
Edward D Webster
ISBN 1-889242-21-7 $24.95 432 pages
V&B Publisher Date of Publication July 1st 2004
used to think of the English as mad and eccentric but the Americans
have this particular corner of human endeavour fenced off now. Any
man, who decides to take a year off work and go to Europe with a
deaf cat and a blind, menopausal wife is asking for trouble, or
at the very least a good set of memoirs. And thats precisely
what we have here.
a man with a particular knack for organisation and, lets be honest,
a high degree of obsessiveness to want to do such a thing. Hed
need a: a co-operative cat (cats aged 16 do not normally get this
opportunity) b: a submissive wife (being used to her husbands eternal
optimism probably helped) and c: the sheer military precision of
the whole enterprise meant that Edward Webster and nuclear family
would emerge from this ordeal unscathed. (Well there is one tragedy
but Ill not reveal that for you.)
A Year of Sundays
is just what it says on the cover. A year out of the rat race. In this
case, as a contract administrator for Ventura County in California.
We all want to do it and (indeed this reviewer has) and it can only
make you a better person, no matter what you do. Of course taking your
cat along too is, well, absurd, but if Dr Doolittle can do it, why not
Edward and Marguerite Webster?
This book is in the form of a daily journal and for many, who will never
have either the nerve or the wherewithal to do such a trip, this makes
wonderful armchair reading from the safety of your own home. No dealing
with language barriers, or strange food, or hunting Paris for the right
kind of cat food. No ordeals of lumpy beds in strange hotels or renting
apartments sight unseen.
There is bravery in all of this. Taking wife and cat to France, Spain,
Italy, Greece, Austria, Germany and Holland wouldnt be easy in
the best of circumstances. Taking the extra trouble to make sure your
cat is happy at all times (as it goes progressively more deaf) and that
your blind wife experiences art, culture and the atmosphere of each
city you visit, as much as you do, is taking husbandly duties to the
level of sainthood. It is rewarding to see how caring and understanding
Edward is to Marguerite, episodes in the MuseedOrsay and
other places where she is able to touch and feel the art are very emotive.
The book is filled with asides on how Europeans live. Take the practice
of fishing with dynamite in Greece (surely illegal) Edward notes there
is little fish on the menu as, of course, dynamite kills everything,
not just the fish.
It seems so foolish, Marguerite said.
You were thinking humans are rational? He replies.
Everywhere man, woman and cat go they find kindness, new friends and
people of all nationalities are helpful, some going out of their way
to be so. Even the French are friendly and I suppose one wouldnt
really want to read a book or live in a Europe where everyone was nasty
to a blind woman and a deaf cat. As Edward remarks after their stay
in Florence. Its the people, not the monuments, that make
the travel experience extraordinary.
There a few repetitive moments in A Year of Sundays as we
lurch from one cybercafe to another to stay in touch with home. Nevertheless,
in a way it is reassuring that Marguerite wants to share her experiences
with friends back home and when she can, watch CNN and Larry King.
A Year of Sundays is something you could keep on your bedside
table and dip into from time to time, anytime you get the urge to travel
but havent got the means. Edward Webster takes you there, decribes
in detail and shares every meal on the way. Read A Year of Sundays
all the way through and you could accurately fake that you had
taken a year off with aplomb and impress all your friends. Oh
my God the plumbing in Italy or eat the bread in Greece immediately,
it goes stale real fast.' It those details that make it all so authentic.
Published by VanderWyk and Burnham the hardback is finely bound and
impressively produced. This book would make an excellent gift to someone
planning a European trip or a year out.
© Sam North Editor June 2004
all rights reserved