The Rope in the Water


"At Kovalam beach on India’s southwestern shore I plunge into the Arabian Sea, the same soft temperature as the air…Looking shoreward, I see lifeguards gesturing. Since I’m much further than I imagined, I begin a determined swim toward them…The lifeguards continue to blast and gesture, but I’m powerless against the riptide irresistibly sweeping me out to sea. Though my situation appears hopeless, I’m about to undergo the most remarkable and mysterious event of my life…." So begins The Rope in the Water, the story of Sylvia Fraser’s three-month pilgrimage to India in search of "something larger than myself, something deeper, something more."

Travelling 12,000 kilometers across deserts and through jungles, Fraser visits sacred sites such as the twilight city of Varanasi on the Ganges, dense with the smoke of hundreds of funeral pyres; north to the glittering Golden Temple of the Sikhs; up Mount Abu where she stays with a Hindu sect called the Brahma Kumaris; south to a Buddhist retreat where she meditates eleven hours a day for ten days while observing a vow of silence; and to the Kovalam beach where her life is saved by a miracle.

Fraser brings alive the sense-luscious tapestry of India, from its fluorescent seas of turbans and flowing robes, to the cerulean alleyways and the hot crush of urban bazaars, while exploring Eastern concepts such as "You create your own future" and "Change yourself and you change everything." Humourous and intelligent, The Rope in the Water is an uplifting yet earthbound literary odyssey for all those interested in the physical and philosophical worlds beyond their own.

Reviews immensely rewarding read.


...a brave meditation on the work of spiritual transformation.

Globe and Mail

Part travelogue, part memoir, part journal of self-discovery...full of delightful vignettes and character studies, all seamlessly woven together and fascinating.

Hamilton Spectator

... a book that succeeds on many levels — as a memoir, a travel guide, an adventure story, a philosophical treatise and a highly readable introduction to eastern religions and mysticism. Both engrossing and entertaining... one of the most courageous, skilled and unconventional writers working in Canada.

Winnipeg Free Press is Fraser herself who provides the prose that makes this book unforgettable.

Regina Leader Post

Fraser strikes the perfect balance between eager spiritual adventurer and keen-minded journalist...The result is a book that doesn't so much tell us about India as it does take us there.

Calgary Herald

About the Author

Sylvia Fraser

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014
Sylvia Fraser photo

Sylvia Fraser

Sylvia Fraser is the best-selling author of nine books, including the internationally acclaimed My Father's House: A Memoir of Incest and of Healing, and The Quest for the Fourth Monkey: A Thinking Person's Guide to the Physic and Spiritual Revolution (previously published as The Book of Strange). A resident of Toronto, she is currently working on a book about shamanism in the Amazonian Basin.