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Call me Ishmael.
Nah, that's plain silly. Call me Maureen. I still love a great sea story, and The Sea Captain's Wife qualifies.
The Sea Captain's Wife by Beth Powning took me away from a winter day in Missouri and landed me in one of the last of the great sailing ships, traveling the guano circuit in the middle of the Civil War.
Azuba is the captain's wife, and from her childhood, she always knew that when she married – and she would marry a captain – she would go with him on his ship. Her husband Nathaniel has other ideas, and when the book opens, Azuba and Carrie, the couple's daughter, having been living in their big, comfortable, lonely house for several months without Nathaniel, when a tragedy occurs.
When, many months later, Nathaniel comes home from his sea voyage, Azuba insists that this time she and Carrie must accompany him on his journey, and Nathaniel reluctantly agrees.
The voyage does not start well. Things are tense between the couple, the women have difficulty adjusting to ship life, and Azuba finds herself questioning her marriage and her own life choices.
The Sea Captain's Wife is a romance about an established marriage with all the little agonies and bright, shining joys that happen when the gloss is worn off of new love. It is about building a family and handling joy and tragedy alone and together. It is about difficult choices and happy coincidences.
Above all, it is a gripping adventure story that you will find yourself racing through to get from one cliffhanger to another, willing yourself to read faster, so you can know, just know that this time things will be okay.
This isn't just a book, it's literature, of the brutally honest sort that could be difficult to read if it wasn't also well and lovingly written. This is a buy and keep story. Pass it on to your friends.
Go ahead, buy it now. You know you want to. It's a great first book of the year. Or second. Or 100th.