2 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Mighty Mary is a yacht racing novel written by Tony Scaringe. It’s based on the real story of the first all-female team to compete in America’s Cup, a traditional sailing competition. We follow these women’s journey to prove themselves and break the male dominance, facing several challenges along the way.
The book begins with Tony Serrano, a reporter who wants to uncover the real story behind the women’s team. He interviews Dan Cook, a previous America’s Cup winner and the man who came up with the idea of an all-female crew. The story is told through Dan’s memories as well as a third-person point of view that reveals things even he doesn’t know.
Thanks to the author’s meticulous research, the novel feels very authentic. Most of the names are changed and a few artistic liberties are taken, but quick research confirms that the events described in the story did take place. The author even includes a bibliography at the end that lists all the books and articles he’s consulted.
Some of the sailing scenes are described in vivid detail, pulling the reader into the action even if they don’t have much knowledge of the sport. I particularly enjoyed the struggles of the U.S. Women’s Challenge during the Whitbread competition, in which the crew faced mortal dangers. That said, this isn’t a great read for beginners: the book uses technical terms like spinnaker, bow, and halyards without bothering to explain most of them. It’s certainly possible to follow the story regardless, but some familiarity with sailing makes the experience more enjoyable.
Sadly, the novel’s second half isn’t as exciting as the first one. This is partly because America’s Cup is less dangerous than Whitbread, but also because we don’t get to know the crew or see them in action all that much. I was far more invested in the U.S. Women’s Challenge and the Heineken than the Mighty Mary: the struggles felt real, the stakes were higher, and the crew had interesting dynamics. Indeed, aside from Gail Adley, no crew members get much development.
Thanks to its huge cast of characters, Mighty Mary can’t spend much time on each of them. The main focus is on Gail, Dan, and Vince as protagonists and Davon as the antagonist. Unfortunately, Davon is the worst aspect of the book: he’s portrayed as a one-dimensional villain who never misses a chance to throw offensive remarks. He’s supposed to represent the chauvinistic resistance towards the women’s team, but this ends up being his only trait, making him a weak character.
There are many errors in the book: missing punctuation, “to” being used instead of “too”, misuse of apostrophes for plurals, etc. I found ten errors in the first four chapters alone. There are also random line breaks in the middle of paragraphs, further distracting the reader. Overall, the novel still needs several rounds of editing.
Mighty Mary is a novel with a lot of potential that fails to deliver as far as character development is concerned. Given its poor editing as well, I rate it 2 out of 4 stars. The book is suitable for older teenagers since there's some vulgar language. I recommend it to readers interested in yacht racing, and particularly in the Mighty Mary and its crew. People unfamiliar with sailing can still read the book, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re willing to spend some time researching on your own.
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon