Monday, July 7, 2014
The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith
Set in the late 18th century, we first meet Tabitha, age 10. A precocious child, motherless (mother Helen died in childbirth), she loves the sea. Her father John, was a seagoing pirate of sorts in his younger days and he filled her head with all sorts of stories of the high seas. He had wisked her mother Helen away from her grandfather Asa's plantation, married her and taken her off to islands unknown..returning a year later pregnant with Tabitha.
And then we learn of Tab's mother, Helen. Her mother also died in childbirth and she was raised by her widowed father, Asa, a very prominent business man in the town of Beaufort. He made his living from the land, gathering pine tar for turpentine. On Helen's 10th birthday, Asa had gifted her with a slave girl named Moll, and they had formed an unusual friendship as they grew up together. Helen turned into a very strong willed, capable young woman and when politics (the end of the Revolutionary war) call her father away from home, Helen runs the plantation. In one of the last skirmishes of the war, which happens in Beaufort, Helen meets John, a Continental soldier and falls in love.
The third part of the novel, is filled with guilt and grief. For Asa , a grieving father and grandfather..for John grieving a wife and daughter. For Moll, grieving a son sold off to slavery.
I was so taken with this story, that I felt like a swift blast of wind had blown right through me at the end of it. I closed the book and put my hand on the cover and rested it for a minute, to catch my breath.
This is a must read on your book list.
Harper Collins Publisher, due out in August.