The Starboard Sea is a sensitively felt first novel that is not without its nostalgic comforts and the entertainment of cushioned tragedies. There will undoubtedly be readers with soft spots for anything ivy-covered more than ready to forgive its generic characters and situations, though one suspects that most of those will hold American passports. The insatiable fetish for expensive prep school and hallowed college is uniquely theirs, the secrets of the midnight dorm room their most cherished.
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Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback globeandmail. The idea that "sailing is the art of asking questions" reflects the novel's unresolved conundrums: fathers, present and absent, are a source of angst, so are we better off with or without them?
And do Dermont's upper-class grotesques live with too little or too much shame?
The Starboard Sea
The answers may lie in the ocean, because the starboard sea of the title is "the right sea, the true sea … the best path in life". Dermont's strongest writing describes sailing but when Prosper competes in a championship, she sensibly resists a dramatic sporting climax. Instead, the skewed sense of loyalty that his unhappy parents instil in him suggests that, although Prosper is committed to breaking the cycle of inherited misery, he will never entirely escape the small world of the entitled.
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The Starboard Sea
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