Book review

Wave Woman: The Life and Struggles of a Surfing Pioneer

by Jay Hiller, May 18, 2023

Betty Pelmbroke Winstedt’s life is lovingly recounted by her daughter in the book, Wave Woman.

Wave Woman: The Life and Struggles of a Surfing Pioneer by Vicky Heldreich Durand is a unique biography. It’s the story of Betty Pelmbroke Winstedt, who lived a remarkable life. Toward the end of the book, she tells her granddaughter that getting into trouble and then finding your way out of it is the fun part of living. While she certainly had her share of troubles, from her family’s financial difficulties during the Depression, injuries, a bad marriage, the death of a second husband from Parkinson’s and the loss of her vision late in life due to macular degeneration, the focus of the book is on her optimistic outlook in the face of all difficulties. At a time when the roles of women were limited, she became a dental hygienist, was a competitive swimmer with Olympic aspirations, was a pilot briefly, made fine jewelry, built houses and wrote poetry. At the age of 40 she learned to surf and surfed competitively.

It’s a good story. I especially enjoyed reading about what it was like to live in Hawaii during the 1950’s and about the relationship between Betty and her daughter Vicky, the author. And I loved Betty’s Haiku poetry which is scattered throughout the book.

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