The Rising of the Moon

Written by Emile Capouya
Review by Mary K. Bird-Guilliams

The title is from a traditional Irish song calling for rebellion “at the rising of the moon.” This is a literary novel with a lovely cover, and the contents live up to it with depth, passion, and intelligent dialogue from the characters. The setting is post-World War II, but the world of the sailor overtakes the political climate so completely that the story’s place in time is almost unimportant. The narrative is filled with sailing jargon: “The officer in the stern sheets did not mean to ship salt water needlessly, and he was sculling to good purpose.” Now, I know that stern means the back of the craft, and sculling I think means a kind of rowing, but nuances are lost on this landlubbing reader. Consequently, some of the action was hard to follow.

Comments on the peculiarities of sea life versus that of the land, however, are riveting. “Scandinavians in general regarded their seamen as men with a profession, with a calling, just as Americans regarded theirs as social outcasts. And, “Seamen, even if they were officers, were generally not welcome as tourists….The first row of bars on the waterfront was what I had seen in three circumnavigations of the globe.” Now, those are the kind of observations that stay with you. Sailors also exist at the whim of events in their time. The young stranded sailor, Mike, has a bit of Don Quixote in his makeup, with all that invites. This is a thoughtful action story for seafarers, and the rest of us.