Reviews: The Kinsman

By Maureen on September 21, 2017
Loved the book! Just suspend disbelief and go with the flow. Think “what if….”
Descriptions of sailing and races and weather are so vivid, you feel like you’re on the boat with them! Leaned lots about yacht racing and the society who makes it happen.
Characters run the gamut of emotions – despair, fear, elation, disappointment, growing love story, happiness, grief, but eventually, visions of better things to come.
At the beginning, you have to get through the blood and gore of the insane, brutal Rwandan genocide, which sets up the whole rest of the story, unlikely as it is. But it’s hard to put down, to come back to reality — a really good read; as I said, just think “what if…” and enjoy the ride!

By JP Skov, CPYB on August 18, 2017

Great story that tied together two things that could not be further apart. I would recommend this book to anybody that roots for the underdog!

By S Landes on July 4, 2017
One of the most gifted storytelling authors I have ever read!McKay, whose own life was one of early money, sailing and adventures, grabs your attention from the very beginning and with short quick chapters takes you from genocide in Africa to the mansions of old money in Rhode Island and eventually to the waters off New Zealand and the struggle for the America’s Cup.This is the adventurous story of a spoiled young man who has been given everything and it means nothing to him. It’s only when he begins to work to help others that he starts to see what is important in life, and it isn’t money. It’s the love of a good woman, respect and trust from friends and the knowledge that you can make life better for others if you are only willing to try.
I am terribly saddened that this powerful writer is no longer with us and no longer able to give us such gripping tales!
By Janette Rapa on September 9, 2016

Each of Gardner’s books is better than the last…if not simply because each is so very original and different! He is (he lives on in his books) an incredibly talented story teller! Does it matter that I was a sailor with interest in Africa? I don’t think so. This story grabbed me from the first page.

By  Pauline E. Patin on August 9, 2016

Not the best written novel but the idea and action was an ‘adventure’.

By JackSparrow on March 3, 2016

Mr. McKay’s development of his characters, story line and the outstanding descriptions of all of the races are first-rate! Even non-racers will love this book. Great for helping me through the winter “doldrums” like “Seeking the Green Flash” has done.

By kerry on September 30, 2015

Very interesting reading – very enjoyable

By Mary Ruth Kozma on August 6, 2015
I read Gardner McKay’s memoirs, though they were just notes and his wife put them together due to his death..
I thought it was hard to read.. and sometimes crude.. as short notes would be until you get to the moment you write then you reword.. edit.. this was not done due to keeping the book ‘true’ to his words.This book surprised me in that the reading was fast.. insights and side notes on characters..
Never sailed in my life.. but the sailing language helped me to feel as though I was in the race.. I was there!
GREAT read for anyone who loves sailing. as the foreword said by Jimmy Buffet.. Gardner McKay’s ‘Adventures in Paradise’ helped to shape his life and his life of sailing as Gardner McKay is mentioned in one of his songs.. ‘son of a son of a son of a sailor’.. Yes Gardner McKay was a real sailor all his life.. second skin to him.. LOVED the book!

By Amazon Customer on July 26, 2014

I know nothing about sailing but this novel had me hooked from the start. It doesn’t matter to me if the technical details aren’t accurate. The story is outrageous and heartwarming, with just the right amount of romance and suspense. I love Gardner McKay’s writing style and am so sorry he wasn’t able to write more. I will always see his handsome face in my dreams.

By Liz Bleier on July 10, 2014

What an amazing book! I rode the waves with the crew of the Kinsman and felt their every victory and defeat. I loved the fact that McKay treated this reader as if I knew all about the America’s Cup and racing sail boats and what’s involved. I never felt talked down to, and that made the book the best. The author was a sailor first, an artist and a writer second and an actor last. All of these came together in a wonderfully woven tapestry I was honored to read.

By Peter J. Granet on December 19, 2013

Beautifully written novel that weaves moral and cultural concerns, 12 meter yacht racing and human interest into a spellbinding opus. As an active sailor, I found the insights into how an America’s Cup syndicate is put together very interesting. The concept of a Rwandan challenge to the super wealthy, blue blood yachting community is totally charming. McKay knows his stuff but you don’t have to be a knowledgeable sailor to enjoy this fast read.

By Tenzin’s Mom on October 6, 2013

I was singing along to Jimmy Buffett’s song, “We Are the People Our Parents Warned Us About,” and started to wonder about the lines: “Hey, Hey, Gardner McKay, Take us on the leaky Tiki with you.” Who in the world was Gardner McKay? Was this someone I was supposed to know? Yes, I’m a baby boomer, but we didn’t have a TV during the years of Adventures in Paradise. So I googled Gardner McKay, found he was an author as well as an actor, and went to Amazon to look at his books.I am a voracious reader, but I know almost nothing about sailing. Gardner McKay is such a talented storyteller, and his writing style pulled me right in from the first chapter. Chapters are short, and rather than my usual style of devouring a book, I found each one so delightfully full of adventure, good characters, and emotional satisfaction that I put the book down for a while after each chapter.

Such a good read — this has become one of my all time favorite books. Never mind the unrealistic premise (it’s fiction, after all) — read it for the story, read it for the dream, read it for the adventure, read it for the characters, read it for the joy of it. Read it!

By Amazon Customer on July 7, 2013

Although have not read the entire book yet, I enjoy it. It is easy to follow and very descriptive of people and surroundings.

By George Garcia on March 20, 2013

This is a great novel. Gardner McKay writes in a fashion that weaves the reader into the book. You can practically taste the salt air and feel the ocean under you. You share the losses and the triumphs. Each chapter brings new intrigue, emotion and thoughtful yet gut-wrenching insights on humanity, life, and love. Yachting…not just a spectator sport but an extension of character and an uncommon bridge across cultures. I am now a McKay fan…and a yachting This is a book that I find myself picking up to read again and again.

By Charles W. Anderson on August 26, 2012

This story takes a fantasy of the improbable sound possible. Gardner McKay described the atmosphere of a truly depressing place and how the people who live there will do marvelous things if their eyes are opened to possibility. While reading this book I heard a story of a young African boy in Malawi learned about how windmills operate. He then scrounged for odd parts and scrap and built a windmill generator to bring electricity to his village. I suspect that’s the fantasy that MaKay hopes becomes achievable. On a personal note, one can feel the hull’s roll and pitch and taste the salt spray through McKay’s words.

By Television Fan on March 8, 2012

Gardner McKay was a truly gifted writer. He knew how to tell a story and involve his audience. This is extremely evident in “The Kinsman” and I highly recommend it as well as his other novels and plays. He manages to do what all exceptional dramatists do and that is reveal a deeper human truth by heightening the conflict in the story. His artistic merits seem to be of a universal nature.

By JDB on February 19, 2012

I just finished this remarkable book. My eyes still moist from the closing lines. The story is frankly unbelievable but so brilliantly written I could still believe every line. Being a wannabe sailor I found the race sequences so compelling and real. I could feel the wind and taste the saltwater spray. Many books are called page turners, but this one really and truly is. From start to finish it captivated. This is the first book I have read by Gardner McKay but will certainly not be the last!

By CLL (Orcas Island, WA) on February 12, 2012

The Kinsman is an astonishing and uncommon work. It is a rich tale that engulfs the juxtaposition between horrifying and beautiful extremes of the human condition – and does so with terse humor, depth, keen sense of irony, and ultimately love. Gardner McKay sounds as if he’s walked the talk – literally – and here he shares it with impossible deftness and heartfelt dreams. This book can help change the world – read it and be changed yourself, for the better.

By Spyridoula Nemesis on November 20, 2011

A fantastic story and definitely a wonderful work, one that I wholeheartedly recommend. A truly inspiring tale from Gardner McKay.

By J. R. Neale on October 30, 2011

Gardner McKay must have been one of the last true romantics. The Kinsman is a novel that clearly makes use of his familiarity with sailing, but even more displays his enormous enjoyment of the unlikely and probably impossible. I know almost nothing about sailing, let alone yacht racing, but in the reading of this often very funny book, I couldn’t help but gain familiarity — the reader is pulled along on any number of races. But his relish in detailing the Rwandan background, the horrors of what his unlikely crew have endured, and the improbability of his desire to create a successful crew of them, are all tangible. And his aunt Pearl is one of the great characters of all time. Slow to start, but gains momentum…exactly like one of the races. Recommended…just don’t try to make a movie out of it. It would cost the earth.

By Joshua Bryant on October 24, 2011
This is an important book for a number of reasons, not the least of which is it’s a hell of a good read. But Mr. McKay also has a conscience. Not that he burdens us with it in the course of telling this delightful and exciting story; he simply, even slyly, reminds us from time to time that a good life can’t be truly lived without it.

By Beverly Erickson on October 16, 2011
Gardner McKay has written another compelling novel of the sea and ships. It is like he is telling his own story as he weaves the reader into the character of Charles Rutledge. This is a character that the reader feels his thoughts and feelings as McKay writes in first person. This book is a real page turner. The story itself would make an excellent movie.

By Matthew C on October 13, 2011
It is a rare writer who can take on the human race as a subject and create a powerful metaphor for man’s inhumanity to man. Gardner McKay is such a writer and the America’s Cup his metaphor. The race itself is as compelling as any sports event cum novel to date. More importantly, the novelist has taken on the subject of what it is to be human and to evolve. This is a must read novel which echoes Dylan Thomas’s prophetic words well: “Rage against the dying of the light.” Gardner Mckay did just that in his last and arguably most important work.

By Barbara D. johnson on October 7, 2011
Enthralling & a must read. Absolutely captivating, characters are strong and very much identifiable with. Excellent story telling by the author and the makings of a great movie as well.

By Kay Lorraine on October 3, 2011
I ordered “The Kinsman” from Amazon and when it arrived, I scanned it. Then I devoured it. Finally, I thought a lot about it – because it’s that kind of book. It raises numerous questions, not the least of which is, “Why isn’t this novel already a best seller?”It’s a book about sailing the America’s Cup. But it’s not. Not really. It’s much deeper than that. It’s a story of growth – One privileged but immature man coming into manhood; one small, war-torn nation coming into its own. It’s also a quiet love story; and a not-so-quiet clash of classes.

Written in first person, it’s the sort of book that Nelson DeMille would write if he retained his understanding of upper-class entitlement, but traded the sarcastic tone for a deepening conscience.

It opens with a man changed by his personal experience of the horrors of the 1994 Rwanda genocide. It ends with a boat, changed by name and a Rwandan crew changed by their shared experience.

As I said, it’s a book about the America’s Cup but, perhaps, not your typical sailing book. Personally, I hate sailing. But I sure loved this novel!

By Joan Gilbert Martin on September 27, 2011
An unlikely premise: the hero, an aimless young American, the black sheep of an important family, finds himself in Rwanda as the massacre of that country’s tribesmen is drawing to a close. In shock from what he witnesses, he has a dream of two yachts in a match point race on a Rwandan lake. From this premise, McKay has produced a rip-roaring page-turning fable of yacht racing; an America’s Cup in which a Rwandan crew made up of Hutus and Tutsis challenges the top yachtsmen of the world, including an American team led by his own uncle.Anyone who has ever sailed or wanted to sail will be enthralled by this story. But it’s more than just a sports saga, it is a coming of age story, a story of reconciliation between bitter enemies, a depiction of the insular world of the very wealthy, and best of all, it is a love story. Among the delights of this book are meeting three very different women–a spoiled young debutante, a powerful and eccentric grande dame, and a young Rwandan beauty.

By Richard P. on September 13, 2011
This is a remarkable work by a remarkable man. I’ve been blessed with work with Gardner McKay as playwright. He was a true inspiration. I just love his writing style. Makes me think he’s right next to me.
Richard Polak

By bobinsalemsc on September 12, 2011
Just finished reading The Kinsman. I was unable to put the book down after I started reading it. Although I amn not a boater and was unfamiliar with some of the boating terms, found the story very interesting and moving. Gardner was an amazing writer of considerable talent.

By Roger Jellinek on September 11, 2011
In just one of his various amazing lives GardnerMcKay was an unnervingly original and uncompromising writer. His imagination brooked no boundaries. He risked himself in a wide variety of genres, as a playwright, short story writer, and novelist. Every work was fearlessly different. THE KINSMAN is no exception, a provocative moral response to the Rwandan genocide, a wonderfully heroic story that almost incidentally happens to be some of the best writing about world-class yacht racing.

By Bruddah on September 11, 2011
This is a wonderful novel written by a marvelous story-teller. This is a story of people overcoming the worst possible tragedies and finding hope in a very unusual and contrasting venue. This is feel good tale about how dreams, hard work and perseverance can prevail against seemingly insurmountable odds. The story is fast-moving, exciting and engrossing to the end.

5.0 out of 5 starslight and fast over deep waters
By Grace Zabriskie on September 11, 2011
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved this book. My intense interest never flagged, and that is amazing to me, as I am not a sailor, am not familiar with sailing terms, and often felt I was reading a book that involved a foreign language as much as it involved English. But I “couldn’t put it down,” as the expression goes; from the moment I understood what the delightfully outrageous premise was to be, through every perfectly paced event as the story unfolds, to an ending I scarcely dared hope could be so successful…I was hooked.

5.0 out of 5 starsSailing
By Lynn Alsobrookon August 14, 2011
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is time that the reading public take note of the works of Gardner McKay. I have read, “Journey Without a Map”, “Toyer”, and his most recently published work, “The Kinsman”. All three are vastly different, but have a tone that prevails in them all. Mr. McKay loved life and all it has to offer. They are important works that lead the reader into a world that most of us will never know with an excitement that leaves you wanting more.I am not an avid sailor, but I felt the thrill and tension of his mission to win the America’s Cup. I felt like I was there thru 321 pages of unbelievable trial, intolerence, intrigue and intense determination.
Gardner McKay was an extraordinary man, with extraordinary gifts of storytelling. This book, “The Kinsman” is a must read, as are all of his works. Don’t miss out on his ability to take you out of your world into that of the fight, against all odds, of winning the America’s Cup with an improbable crew of Rwandans.

5.0 out of 5 stars The Kinsman – A Whacking Great Read!
By Richard Fullerton on August 12, 2011
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
Only a sailor could have written a novel so rich in detail that it practically drips sea water. Only a writer at the top of his game could so skillfully weave plot, character, theme, action and the triumph of the human spirit into a compelling yarn like “The Kinsman”. I did put the book down to work and sleep. I was away from home and disapproving stares during the time I read it, so I did NOT put it down during meals… Handle with care, therefore, if you expect to digest it in polite company, as you may abandon certain elementary social skills during the process…:-)

I have now read three plays, an autobiography, a novel, and countless theatre reviews by Gardner McKay (during his years with the Los Angeles Herald Examiner). He was a writer’s writer. If your consider yourself a reader…read McKay.

5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ!
By Robyn A. Schaefer on July 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
Written by a remarkable storyteller, Gardner McKay shares the details of unimaginable travesty, seemingly insurmountable challenges and thrilling adventure by creating vivid characters, dialogue and description that will keep you completely engaged. His writing is deeply moving, at times humorous, and always honest – I was swept completely into the story within the first few paragraphs, and never turned back.

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
By Mira on July 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
I like the writing style. It grabs the attention of the reader. I myself am not a writer so I will not attempt a lengthy review. But I will say that it’s wonderful to find a book that carries you away with it into a different time and a different place.

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Story!!!
By Everett Peacock on July 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book introduced me to Mr. McKay.

I had no idea he and I had spent two decades on the same Hawaiian island, never having met in the same idyllic seas, he on his sailboat and me on my surfboard. I imagine I may have once spotted his sails full of a brisk tradewind off of Diamond Head that textured my waves as well as his with the same magical thrill, the same shared space in paradise.

Yet, we never formally met, until I read The Kinsman. There I found his conversation quite witty, his storytelling quick and filling and his mark on his world unique, compelling. That world, that slice of society, both his and his adopted, are places I honestly never knew existed. That alone made it a highly interesting read, but there was quite a bit more.

Every chapter moved quickly into the next, as if it were pushing me from behind, hurrying me along in a child-like game of wild-eyed exploration. I was late to several appointments and got a lot less sleep the week I read it, or rather the week it held me hostage to an intoxication of curiosity. It was one of those rare books where I found myself adamantly avoiding the last page, yet I turned to it faster than any of the others when its time came.

Now, that both he and I have left that Hawaiian island for farther shores I find myself feeling a bit of a loss at not having run into a small crowd surrounding him at some dinner party somewhere, discussing some adventure of his. I will imagine though that I did see his schooner catch the same ocean swell my surfboard did one afternoon under a dazzling tropical sun, he surfing an ocean roller and me sliding over a shallow reef.

Good storytelling like this enhances our limited world experiences, letting us live quite a bit larger than would ever be possible. Those stories we would be wise to revisit. One day I will re-read “The Kinsman” remembering how Gardner McKay introduced me to the thrill of sailing in much the same way that Hemingway showed my the magic in fishing the Gulf Stream.

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