In the heyday of whaling in the South Pacific, the quarry was so numerous as to form what was described as a black road in the sea. In 1992, ten years after whaling was banned, a scientific expedition set off from Tahiti on a voyage around the Pacific to New Zealand, following the 'whale road.' Deborah McCutchen joined the crew as a nanny for the two children of the captain and his wife. The Whale Road is a montage of snapshots, layered together in a colorful album of words. There are diary excerpts and ship's log entries; there is myth, story, and fascinating facts about whales. McCutchen strikes a fine balance between lyricism and musing on the one hand, and action and anecdote on the other. Humor enlivens the mundane: the nausea and cabin fever, dwindling supplies, brief island sojourns, and the work of photographing whales and collecting skin and excrement samples. The natural world is illuminated with a sense of magic and awe, in a style akin to Annie Dillard's: the majesty of whales and other sea life, the power of the elements, the silent communing with the cosmos on night watch. Without being preachy, this book is a plea for the conservation of whales and other creatures, and a lament for human interference in nature.
-The New Zealand Herald