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Summary

Danie Couchman grew up on the move, her family never staying still long enough for her to say where she's from. At 25, and living in her 17th home, she finds herself drowning in the rush of London life and makes an impulsive decision: to buy a narrowboat and make it her home.

Surrounded by an eclectic and itinerant community in the uncharted territory of the capital's urban wilderness, Danie becomes fully immersed in this hidden world. Each day on board her boat, Genesis, is an adventure full of disaster and magic. Over five years of living off-grid, nomadic Danie learns to survive the many highs and lows of boat life alone, keeping herself, and her steel home, afloat. 

A captivating debut, Afloat is the story of a young woman's desire to escape an ever more isolated city existence and reconnect with nature, discovering what is important in life.

Cover Credit: © Eleanor Taylor 

©2018 Danie Couchman (P)2019 Audible, Ltd

Critic reviews

"What an enjoyable and engaging book. I loved all the granular detail of boat living, the portraits of the various characters who live on the water, and the moving story of Danie's family and her teenage years. The way she describes feeling powerless when in thrall to older boys will be painfully resonant to lots of women." (Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of The Last Act Of Love

"This is such a lovely book, about life on the river, and so much more. It's a tale of strength and courage - painfully sad, and beautifully uplifting, and always fascinating." (Anna Maxted, The Times)  

"Afloat makes it clear that we must all stop to appreciate the simplicity of life in the urban landscape of London’s waterways" (George Burton, BBC Radio London)

What listeners say about Afloat

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Amazing real life adventure

This book is a fantastic insight into a life1 that many of us wish we could experience, throwing caution to the wind and pursuing adventure. Even if you have no interest in life on a canal boat, the sense of adventure throughout really touches a part of the soul that yearns for taking chances and seizing the day. Very, very well narrated too if you're going for the audio version. I'm not sure if there will be any other titles released by Danie Couchman but this is a beautifully written book that has had me locked in from start to finish.

5 people found this helpful

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Fantastic story! I loved it.

I liked Danie Couchman’s warm, friendly voice as she told us about the exciting time she had in her 20s on the canals and rivers of East London and surrounding areas. I enjoyed hearing about all the characters and friends she made, as well as her love life. She’s totally honest about the delights as well as the hardships of life aboard. She writes so bravely and openly about coming to terms with difficult times and incidents when she was a child. She has an open warm spirit. I wish her all the happiness she deserves with her future plans.
I definitely recommend this audiobook.

3 people found this helpful

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Perfect light listen for long walks along canals

Liked the book. It's easy, author felt very relatable (despite our vastly different experiences). Has a darker feel to it in one part, which, nevertheless, did not affect the general mood of the book. It is filled with joyous stories of finding an unorthodox home and building a like-minded community without sugarcoating all of the difficulties such lifestyle will bring. Loved recognizing East London areas, was perfect for my walks along Regent's canal. The book is simple and predictable, but that is what I expected so I recommend it.

3 people found this helpful

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Beautiful story - authentic, warm and uplifting

Beautiful story from a talented author. It tells the story of how one person found her own community, her river family and you feel privileged to be invited into her very special world. It's like an Eat, Pray, Love on the River Thames - where we share Danie's voyage of discovery, finding love, lifelong friendships, giving us all lessons on how to be more self sufficient, encouraging us to take more risks, inspiring us to be fearless and showing us how little we really need to be happy. There's pain, suffering and loss in there as well as she paints a beautiful picture, that is not without it's dark colours. I was sorry to say goodbye to Danie at the end of the book - but I'm sure it's not the last we will all hear of her - I'm already looking forward to the film :)

2 people found this helpful

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Absolutely Brilliant!

I so enjoyed this book and brought alive by the author herself. Very well written. As a boater myself who has spent time on the same waterways that Dani writes about, it was clear her story is completely authentic. Her description of Boat life is descriptive, accurate and amusing. I didn’t want the story to end and I was sad when it did. I am an avid reader and now listener too. It is rare that I have been so touched by a book. As I said to Dani in a message I sent her, I have never before been so moved that I felt inspired to contact the author of a book. I wholeheartedly recommend ‘Afloat’, boaters especially will love it, but equally for the non-boater you won’t find a more realistically woven tale of life on the waterways of London. A joy to behold.

2 people found this helpful

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Fantastic.

Really loved the book and very well read.
Danni should do more writing and maybe think about narrating other books too. I chose this audible version as I'm a truck driver and found this book so easy to listen to.
I was able to relate to some of the moments in this book as my wife and I have owned several campers and enjoyed many journeys in this country ( Norfolk Broads being a favorite) and around Europe. It's funny, we live by the sea and we always end up holidaying by the sea, a lake or river somewhere but we've never owned a boat. We've never been brave enough to swap out the bricks and mortar for life on the move. See what happens when we retire.
After everything you've gone through in your early years Danni , you deserve all the best that life can offer you. Good luck.
Jon.

2 people found this helpful

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Genuinely Beautiful

This book was recommended to me and I wasn't disappointed, well, not until it finished and I stopped being able to follow along with the adventures. This book genuinely is both beautifully written and read. A brutally honest account of finding yourself and realising a life most of us wouldn't dare to consider.

2 people found this helpful

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Beautifully written and narrated.

Really enjoyed this book, a glimpse into one person’s experience of the challenges of finding your place in the world and learning how to balance past and present. I’ve always loved boat travel, but never quite wanted it as a permanent existence. It was nice to hear someone else be that much braver and be told the highs, lows and truly memorable moments that it entails. A gem of a book, I would love to hear what happens next, should the author be so inclined!

1 person found this helpful

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Truly evocative

I feel like I've lived a life on a narrow boat after listening to this memoir.

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Really loved this book

I loved the story and it is read beautifully. I particularly enjoyed the fact that it conveys the magic of the canal but doesn’t sugarcoat the bleaker times. I finished it in a day.

1 person found this helpful