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When was the last time you read some modern sea stories—stories of ships and the seafarers who man them? Tales of adventure, love, romance, piracy, intrigue. And human nature? Well, look no further. These are twelve stories of the sea, but not necessarily for seafarers alone. They are for anybody and everybody who likes to read fiction. And a ripping good yarn, as Sailors used to say once upon a time. Written by a sea…

“Seamen are basically simple men. They have faith in God and their superiors. In that order.” The Hijack

The title and the cover image are reminiscent of the shore and the sea; the tagline brings in the salty tang of the blue waters. Twelve stories leap off the page and keep the readers engrossed, their themes ranging from love and romance to adventure and intrigue.

The first story titled ‘The Piano Man’ sets the stage for all the others to come, with a twist that brings a smile on the face. It reminds one of Coleridge’s famed ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, a reminder that is carried on in another story titled ‘Transition’, which throws up a contrast between the past and the present, the Ancient and the Modern Mariner, as seen through the eyes of a young boy, Keenan, who loves the adventurous tales narrated by his lively grampa.

 Beetashok Chatterjee’s love of the sea comes out vividly in the way his protagonists find themselves at home on board. His descriptions mirror this point. Whether it is Paul in ‘Sapphire Blue’ and his mystery women or Jay and Chow in the wonderful ‘Stairway to Heaven’, whose deep friendship starts at sea and is continued even after, the lure of the blue is unmistakable.

A clear picture of the quintessential seafarer shines through the book. In the heartwarming tale ‘The Visitor’, ‘the superstition of the seamen’ is palpable. They live out their lives with “the sun, the moon and the stars for company”. In ‘Stairway to Heaven’, the protagonists “saw Heaven that night”, an image that the author has put across thorough his evocative words.

Adventure runs like a thread through stories like ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’, ‘The Hijack’, and ‘Reach for the Stars’, all of which highlight the perils that seafarers are superstitious about. For finally, a seaman is “Just a Seaman”.

The theme of love and romance is secondary, but enjoyable as seen in “Miss Me?”, a story written in a different style, and in the heart wrenching “Little Girl Lost”.

Beetashok Chatterjee has an engaging style that brings in the music of the sea. Even his metaphors are nautical.

“He sat down and began to play a slow sad tune, the sound of music filling the room like a tide rushing in.” The Piano Man

“The breeze blew in from the sea bringing him the kiss of a mermaid.” Transition

“The guilt comes and goes… like a wave around his ankles during a rising tide.” Little Girl Lost

And the most poetic one of all…

“He waited till the boy sailed across the dark oceans of sleep to dream of things that should never change.” Transition

Written by a sea captain who has spent his entire adult life at sea, this book is one that can be read by anyone who likes “a ripping good yarn” as the blurb goes!


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Deepti Menon
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