Thursday, June 20, 2013
Published June 2013 by Bloomsbury USA
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for this review
It is 1740 and Louise Fletcher, a young maid, has been warned of the lure of the sea for as long as she can remember—after all, it stole away her father and brother. But when she is offered work in the bustling naval port of Harwich serving a wealthy captain’s daughter, she leaps at the chance to see more of the world. There she meets Rebecca, her haughty and fascinating mistress. Intertwined with Louise’s story is that of fifteen-year-old Luke, who is beaten and press ganged, sent to sea against his will on board the warship Essex in the service of His Majesty’s Navy. He must learn fast and choose his friends well if he is to survive the brutal hardships of a sailor’s life and its many dangers, both up high in the rigging and in the dark decks down below
In this debut work of historical fiction, Worsley displays a knack for awakening the senses. The sights, sounds, smells of a 17th-century British seaport and a ship at sea are so vivid I found myself easily drawn into the world Worsley had created.
Dual narratives are always tricky; finding the proper balance to keep the reader interested in both stories can be problematic. Here Worsley struggled a bit. I was much more drawn into Louise's story, perhaps because there was the capability to do more in a less confined space. Too, the stories both lingered too long on certain aspects of their story line - too much time spent on the politics of the ship, too much time spent exploring the relationship between Rebecca and Louise.
But Worsley also manages to give both story lines a tension that kept pulling me along through the book, slowly building to the point where I finally began to see where she might be headed, where I might finally see how these two stories might tie into each other. Even when I thought I knew what was going to happen, Worsley still managed to surprise me.
As a debut, there are some rough edges, but Worsley's knowledge of her subject and writing style are impressive. I'm definitely eager to see what her future holds.
For other reviews, check out the full schedule for the tour. Kate Worsley was born in Preston, Lancashire, and studied English at University College London. She has worked variously as a journalist, a massage practitioner, and spotlight operator, and has a master’s in creative writing (novels) from City University London. She now lives on the Essex coast.
Posted by Lisa at 12:11 AM