LOST: A MEMOIR — The Book

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“LOST is a classic adventure story rendered in beautiful, sometimes haunting prose. But it is also a startling honest meditation on desire, family, and fulfillment. How does a man live an authentic life? And what happens when that life is lost?”

—KAREN CONNELLY, author of The Lizard Cage

Cathy reads LOST at the Halifax Public Library

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Cathy interviewed by the Brad Brooks Show

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Lost: A Memoir

In August of 1995, David Ostlere, and his British girlfriend, Sarah, set sail from Ireland in a boat called Mugwump. The 27-foot yacht is headed for the tropical island of Madeira, 1200 nautical miles south. The journey that should take two weeks becomes a mystery when Mugwump disappears.

Canadian writer, Cathy Ostlere, David’s sister, travels to Madeira determined to uncover information that will allow the families to continue hoping for the young couple. But instead of finding answers to Mugwump’s disappearance, the beautiful and sensual island of Madeira stirs the sister’s longings and she begins to examine the choices she has made for her life.

As hope for David and Sarah’s rescue fades, the narrator’s home life unravels. She must still care for her three young children and a husband recovering from cancer, but she no longer sleeps. She is up every night wondering what happened to Mugwump?

LOST: A MEMOIR is a heartrending story of a woman’s search for her missing brother but it is also a search for self—an intimate exploration of love, grief, and meaning.

For anyone who has lost a loved sibling, this book will resonate with the story of a brother and sister who change each other’s lives. LOST: A MEMOIR will also appeal to the reader whose interest in true adventure stories includes the examination of what it means to be passionate, alive, and committed to one’s dreams.

Map of the Journey

Map of Mugwump Journey
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Excerpt from Lost: A Memoir


Chapter One

WE SIT AROUND THE kitchen table, waiting.

A map of Vancouver Island floats under the glass-top table. My finger traces the west coastline of long deep inlets where rain in rivers is carried to a turgid sea. Nootka, Esperanza, Quatsino. My father sips loudly into his coffee cup. My mother clears her throat. Familiar habits. We are a prairie family—there is a certain dryness to us. When I lean over the table to look at Cape Scott, the point where the Pacific Ocean rounds the northern tip of the island, I accidentally knock over the saltshaker.

“It’s the left shoulder,” says my mother, but I leave the little crystals spilled. They catch the streams of the morning sun and glitter like quartz in sand. My mother pinches her fingertips together and flings the granules to the window. “We don’t want any bad luck.”

Today is my youngest brother’s birthday. September 30, 1995. For the last seven years, David has telephoned from wherever he is in the world. He never forgets and neither do we. He sometimes calls each of us—my parents, a brother and sister in Winnipeg, and me in Calgary. We say happy birthday, our voices carried through deep cables across the ocean. In 1988, the year he met an Englishwoman named Sarah, he called from Brisbane, Australia. “We’ve sold the car and we’re going to Japan.” In 1990, he was in Guangzhou, China. This morning, my parents are expecting to hear his voice from a telephone booth in the south of England. But they will be mistaken. I am the only one in the family who knows that my brother and Sarah are headed to the open Atlantic. They plan to sail from Ireland to the Azores Archipelago and then on to the island of Madeira. By the end of today, I won’t have to keep their secret any longer.

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“The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.” - Anaďs Nin


Readers’ Comments:

“Cathy Ostlere’s Lost read like fiction—it had an interesting narrative that integrated so many different styles of storytelling. It inspired the approach I took.” - Jael Richardson, author of The Stone Thrower

“… an intense story told with a lot of grace.”

“My throat tightened and my heart ached many times but I also felt much love and great hope. How blessed your brother was to have you as his sister.”

“Unforgettable. A memoir of searching for a brother lost at sea … but also poetry, reflections on grief, loss, love, and the pursuing of passion….”

“… it’s beautiful.”

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LOST Shortlisted

2009 EDNA STAEBLER AWARD FOR CREATIVE NON-FICTION

Read Reviews of “Lost”

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Cathy Ostlere



Lost - Cathy Ostlere

Would you like a copy of LOST? Contact Cathy I am pleased to make arrangements for delivery of LOST: A MEMOIR to bookstores and individuals.