Grade 9 Up–Patricia Kelley is the bold heroine of this 18th-century seafaring saga. Left with debts after her father's death, the teen leaves her English boarding school to claim her Barbados plantation. She stows away on a merchant ship, but is soon discovered and threatened with expulsion at the nearest port. The ship's surgeon intervenes and she becomes skilled as a nurse, but finds joy only in her nightly visits on deck when she wears sailor's clothes and learns to climb the ropes. She longs to be with Brian Dalton, the bosun's mate, but he is beneath her socially. In Barbados, Patricia finds that she has no home, and she agrees to the surgeon's marriage proposal. Part two depicts their growing relationship and the work they do to combat yellow fever. Part three finds Patricia a penniless widow and shipwreck victim. Disguised as a man, she signs on as an assistant surgeon on a frigate bound for battle in Havana and is reunited with Brian. Though much of the novel is plot driven, Collison does an excellent job of allowing her protagonist to develop. At first she is fairly unlikable, which is true to her character, but ultimately she matures and becomes free of the shackles of convention. Historical details are smoothly woven into the story, and a historical note and bibliography are appended. Readers who enjoyed Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (HarperCollins, 1992) will find a more substantial, mature story here to captivate them again.–Cheri Dobbs, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI
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After the death of her father, an English gentleman who had never married her mother, Patricia must leave the boarding school where she has lived for 10 years. Penniless but determined to claim her father's estate in Barbados, she stows away on a ship bound for the Caribbean. Though her plans go awry, Patricia discovers friendship, romance, marriage, love, danger, courage, self-reliance, and the satisfaction of a useful trade. She finds her soul mate early in the story, but because he cannot support her, she must accept the proposal of a man she does not love. A recurring theme is Patricia's dressing as a man, first for the freedom of climbing the ship's rigging and later for the necessity of earning her living in a man's profession. Collison's research shows--not just in the appended author's note and the glossary but also in details of mid-eighteenth-century birth control and life as a ship's surgeon. Told in the first person, this seafaring saga features a heroine who longs for both independence and love. Link this to Tanith Lee's Piratica (2004). Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.