January 24, 2014

TLC Book Tour: Sailing Out of Darkness by Normandie Fischer

Did ex-wives and ex-lovers attend some sort of twelve-step program? Or did they just evolve and explore until they found new ways to cope? New words to define themselves after all the old ones failed. / Maybe this could be her Betty Ford Clinic Abroad.
-from Sailing Out of Darkness by Normandie Fischer

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Initially I thought this book was going to be a pretty standard love story in the same vein as Under the Tuscan Sun or another travel-abroad whirlwind romance story. While it does maintain its roots in romance, Normandie Fischer's Sailing Out of Darkness proves to be anything but "standard". This Christian based novel is the story of Samantha Ransom's redemption. Recently divorced, Sam becomes romantically and sexually entangled with a childhood friend, Jack, who is already involved with another woman. When Sam becomes mysteriously targeted by someone damaging her property, she realizes she suspects it's Jack's ex-girlfriend and knows she must separate herself from Jack once and for all. She flees to Italy to gain her independence, but instead meets Teo, an American writer in Italy who makes Sam feel things she's never felt before. But the adventure doesn't stop when Sam meets Teo; readers also experience some mystery, some super-natural and a lot of faith-infused lessons that enrich the reading experience.

What I loved most about Sailing Out of Darkness was it's ability to touch on a lot of tough issues while still being an accessible and somewhat light read. It asks the question of what happens to divorcees, how do they recover with feelings of rejection and an unfulfilled future? Sam's experience also poses the question as to whether or not independence means isolation. Can she be an independent woman in a relationship? Or does she need to isolate herself from others romantically in order to grow? The answers are not black and white, but what Fischer presents is a lesson about loving and forgiving oneself that any reader who picks up this book is sure to appreciate.

Another of the many lessons Fischer touches on is that of mental and emotional health. Between Sam's emotional distress and the culprit who is harassing her, the reader gets a picture of various degrees in which people require help. One of my favorite parts of this book is the acknowledgements in which Fischer extends her hope that this book will help us recognize those who are hurting. I think this is an important part of this book and it's something I will take with me long after this book has been read and this review has been posted. 

For the English major in me, I was pleased to recognize the use of metaphors and symbolism throughout this book (whether intentional or not). Samantha's sailboat Alice became a metaphor of Samantha herself, floating on the sea of life, adjusting no matter where the wind takes her. Like Sam, Alice even has her fair share of holes. Similarly, I found Teo's character Sophrina from his novels to symbolize a dependable, secure and controllable relationship that fulfilled Teo in ways real women did not.

My biggest complaint about the book were that there were so many characters so early on, I couldn't decipher who was important to note and who was not. I feel some of them could have been eliminated or consolidated, for example Rhea, even though I felt she symbolized the Christian conscience. Speaking of Christianity, this book was lightly seasoned with Christian teachings, which might rub some readers the wrong way. For me, it did not at all, but this might be important to note. I think Christian readers, even those with a very basic relation to Christianity will enjoy the spiritual component.

One final note: this book will make you hungry! It will also make you want to travel to Italy! Anybody want to sponsor my honeymoon?? Anybody?? ....*crickets*... okay... ;)

Bottom Line: I enjoyed this book and would probably have enjoyed it more if I were older with the experience of marriage and children. I think I might not have been the target audience, but it was a nice read nonetheless! Especially recommended if you've struggled with divorce, relationships and/or self-acceptance. 3.5/5 stars! (Rounding up on Goodreads and Amazon because I wasn't exactly the target audience.)

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About the Author

Normandie Fischer writes from on board her sailboat or from on shore in coastal NC -- stories of women and families and the things that get to them.


  1. Danielle, thank you so much for taking the time to read and review Sailing out of Darkness. I really appreciate the obvious thought you put into your comments and the depth of insight you showed. (Yea, English majors!)

    Oh, and Italy would be a perfect honeymoon spot. I know a great place to stay just south of Florence where they have a cooking school--which means the food is incredible. But then, Italy abounds in wonderful restaurants!

  2. Danielle, I love your blog--helping me discover my next favorite book! Sailing out of Darkness is one of my already favorite books, for all the reasons you mentioned here. Normandie Fischer writes so beautifully and poetically and crafts such real characters, I felt like I lived that journey with Samantha.

  3. Robin, don't you love the quote Danielle picked? One of my favorites. Thank you so much for your kind words!

  4. I have to disagree on the number of characters. I found I was shown who was and who wasn't important. I loved the book!

  5. Thank you, r, for your note here. I especially appreciate the compliment from someone who is obviously not the right demographic for women's fiction. I found a reviewer on Goodreads, a male who'd accidentally bought Becalmed because the thought it was a mystery. I'm not sure he ever finished it, but he said he was giving it so many stars because he loved the writing. Wasn't that a nice thing to say?

    And, Ane, it sounds as if you're exactly the target audience! Thanks for stopping by with your lovely words.

  6. Normadie, this sounds like an awesome book. I'm looking forward to reading it.

  7. Thank you, Suzie! Hope you'll enjoy it.

  8. Wonderful review, Danielle--and I love the quote you chose, too. In case anyone reading this review things that Sailing Out of Darkness falls strictly into the "Christian Fiction" category, I'd just add that one of the things I liked best was that while the author's Spiritual/Religious side comes through, it doesn't beat the reader over the head with it, like what (in my experience) seems to be the norm in "Christian Fiction." Fischer makes it one part of, not the entirety of the character. I appreciated that subtlety and think it makes the book accessible to a much broader audience than just those who'd migrate to "Christian Fiction."

  9. I'd love a trip to Italy myself ... ahh, to dream!

    Thanks for being on the tour. I'm glad you enjoyed this book!


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