Sunday, July 5, 2009

Recommended Reading From Our Friend Ann: The Story of Flying Cloud

In the front hall as you enter Maury Place, you will see to your left a model of the clipper ship Flying Cloud. Jeff found it in an antique shop in Richmond and bought it knowing that the story of Flying Cloud is linked to Matthew Fontaine Maury, the namesake of Maury Place. Jeff and I share a love of reading -- and Maury Place -- so Jeff asked me to read the book and let him know what I thought since he offers the book for sale in the Maury Place gift shop.

So I took the pristine hardcover version of the book that Jeff kindly loaned to me home to Washington, DC. I spent some leisurely hours with Flying Cloud and entered a world that was completely foreign to me. I found a fascinating sea yarn with a little bit of everything. For the sailing afficionado, great descriptions of actually sailing the ship, with rousing accounts of piloting through violent storms. For the women's history fan, an inspiring saga of Eleanor Creesy, the female navigator and captain's wife, who plotted the ship's course and set a longstanding world time record for sailing from New York to San Francisco around the tip of South America. For the social history fan (or just plain gossip lover), author David Shaw gives you the back story of Flying Cloud's passengers. And for everyone who is curious about Matthew Fontaine Maury, you'll see his master navigation skills at work, as Eleanor Creesy relied on his sea charts for Flying Cloud's record-setting voyage.

Now about that pristine copy of the book that Jeff loaned to me. It's not so pristine any more. My black and white "cow cat," Frank, decided that it would be a great idea to practice his jumping skills. He took a full glass of iced tea with him which went all over the off-white carpet, a stack of magazines, a pile of bills, and....that pristine copy of Flying Cloud. Let's just say that the book looks well-loved and Frank will be buying Jeff a new hardcover copy of Flying Cloud.