Deeply personal and because of this, incredibly touching, this journey into the lives of Patti Millar, her brother Barney and the catalyst, the day he fell to earth, which seems a little farfetched until a salient fact is added to the statement. Barney is a hang glider; a man who loves his freedom, loves pitting his intelligence and skills against the forces of nature. A man who every time he takes to the air is taking a huge, calculated risk.
But it is true, Barney did indeed fall to earth in a freak accident that no amount of skill, preparation or courage could have prevented. He thought he would die; instead he was forced to face a long road to recovery, to learning to walk again and to eventually return to the sport he loved, almost above all else.
Patti, his sister, never really understood her brother, as he was different to the rest of the children that made up the Catholic family of eight children. Barney was the third child, Patti one of the younger siblings. He was tidy, orderly and very organised, something the rest of the children were not. He was different. He dreamed of one day being able to fly.
About the same time Barney took up hang gliding, Patti took up long distance walking, often wondering why, what was the challenge. It is not until she begins to put both her and Barney’s stories together, does she begin to understand that perhaps they are not so different after all.
In looking forward, then looking back, Patti Smith has woven a powerful story of family, love, understanding and emotional acceptance, learned and understood in the majestic beauty of the walking tracks of the world, and the skies above New South Wales, where both Barney, a determined and controlled man, and Patti, a slightly more diverse, compulsive person, learn their strengths, weaknesses and their ingrained determination to overcome adversity.
For walkers, the storyline will resonate, as many of the better-known tracks such as the Camino, the walk around Uluru and the challenging Mont Blanc Switzerland -France – Italy trek, come to life. For those who pit their skills against nature and the elements by flying, will completely understand Barney’s overwhelming desire to try and one day, fly again.
Powerful, emotional and absolutely engrossing, Patti Smith has shared a time in her life that was both horrifying and yet healing as she came to understand far more about life, the tie that is family and why taking risks is, or seems to be, a part of her and Barney’s journey. They had discovered they had more in common than they ever thought possible!
A most unusual and unexpected story, The Joy of High Places is one story which will remain in the memory for a very long time.
|Publisher||New South Publishers|
|Distributor||New South Books|