Grand Ambition

Michaels, Lisa. Grand Ambition. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2001.

The year is 1928. America is spellbound by adventurous feats like the one of Charles Lindbergh’s first transatlantic flight. Amelia Earhart is in the news with her own daring flight. It’s only natural that a man by the name of Glen Hyde, interested in running whitewater, would want to set some records of his own.

Grand Ambition starts with the first person narrative of Reith Hyde, father of Glen Hyde. Reith sets the ominous tone and the sense of foreboding. Keeping track of his son and new wife’s progress down the rapids of the Colorado River he knows they are late reaching their next point. Surely, something is wrong…
Glen, 30 and Bessie Hyde, 23 are a true life ambitious and adventurous newlywed couple who dared to go down the rapids of the Grand Canyon in a homemade boat in late 1928. Glen, an experienced boater, wanted to be the fastest man to complete the journey. Bessie was romanced by the idea of being the first woman to do the same even though she was a novice. They were almost at the end when something went horribly wrong and they were never heard from again. Lisa Michaels takes to task telling their heroic story, imagining what they went though and their ultimate demise. Interspersed between the adventure is the personal history of Bessie and how she came to meet Glen, fall in love with him and find herself boating down the rapids of the Colorado River. On the other side of the story is the search for Glen and Bessie. Glen’s desperate father, Reith, will stop at nothing to find his son.

As I was reading this I couldn’t help but think of my friend and the book he wrote about his own adventure down in the Grand Canyon. I wondered if he saw the same rock formations, the same rapids untouched by time.

Lines to remember, “…she had been a brief accident of his early twenties made into holy law…” (p 21), “Death didn’t miss you because you stood still” (p 44), and “Love is another country” (p 195).

Reason read: June is adventure month. Knowing this always makes me feel like I should be living an adventure, not reading about one.

Author fact: Grand Ambition is Michael’s debut novel.

Book trivia: I could see this being a really cool movie, but it’s not.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Adventure By The Book: Fiction” (p 7). Also from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “AZ You Like It” (p 31). As an aside, Grand Ambition is indexed as just Ambition in Book Lust To Go.

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