Review: THE SEA CAPTAIN'S WIFE by Beth Powning

I think this is the first book I’ve read about life on the high seas which does not have the main character holding the lowest status on board ship. Perhaps there’s something about the story-telling arc that lends itself to that feature. Or perhaps, since the main character is the captain's wife in a 19th century world, she is considered to have the lowest status. Not likely though, considering the plight of some cabin boys I've read about.

In any event, The Sea Captain’s Wife by Beth Powning is an adventurous tale of a sea-faring family told from the viewpoint of Azuba Galloway, the captain’s wife aboard Traveller, a merchant ship sailing during the 1860’s. Azuba strives to overcome a myriad of obstacles while also having to deal with the 19th century attitude to women’s roles.

I really enjoyed this book. It was definitely a page-turner and kept me awake at night far longer than I should’ve been. There were two small blips for me, however. I’m one of those people who can’t stand to read anything about suffering children – even though it’s often a sad reality. This story did have some of that in it. The second thing that gave me pause is the Captain’s behavior. Certainly I thought the author had his attitudes and actions spot on most of the time, but I wonder, since the story is told from his wife’s perspective (and therefore, I think, perhaps an extension of the author’s), if the Captain would have behaved differently given some of the circumstances he faced. It’s difficult to go into more detail without giving away any of the plot so I will leave it at that. Something else to note is that there is a helpful glossary at the back of the book defining many of the sailing terms used throughout. I consulted it sporadically but for those who like to picture the action, it’s a useful tool. All in all this book was great and I highly recommend it.

Note: I love the cover of this book, but since I received the ARC through LibraryThing's early reviewer programme I have the uncorrected proof and not the finished copy with this nice cover.


Laura Fabiani on February 18, 2010 at 9:21 AM said...

This book sounds like a great read for a book club selection. Will keep it in mind.

Donna, I have an award for you here:

You've got a great blog!

bermudaonion on February 18, 2010 at 2:19 PM said...

Nice review! I didn't realize the captain's wife traveled on those ships - I can't think of anything worse! The book sounds interesting.

gautami tripathy on July 22, 2010 at 8:30 AM said...

Like you I too liked the book!

Read my review here!

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