The Sea Captain's Wife Paperback – Deckle Edge, Nov 30 2010
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Quill & Quire
Beth Powning’s second novel is the affecting and engaging story of a young woman seeking her place in the world – a place away from the loneliness and boredom of a small Canadian village.
Azuba is the young wife of Nathaniel, an older man who captains the Traveller, a commercial ship. The couple originally planned to travel together, but when Azuba becomes pregnant, Nathaniel realizes he cannot jeopardize his wife’s safety or that of his unborn child by taking her aboard his ship.
The primary action begins in 1861, five years into the couple’s marriage. Azuba, pregnant again, suffers a miscarriage while her husband is at sea, and finds comfort and understanding in her friendship with a local minister. Upon Nathaniel’s return, rumours of an affair between Azuba and the minister are swirling, and as a result he feels compelled to take his wife and five-year-old daughter on his next voyage. During that arduous trek around the world, Azuba and her husband begin to rebuild their relationship and in the process explore the dynamics of family and belonging.
Powning’s lyrical prose accentuates the struggles of the characters while smoothly advancing the plot. The descriptive passages paint a clear picture of the historical period while taking care not to wallow in gratuitous details. Unfortunately, the prologue is written in a more formal style than the novel proper, and the epilogue seems like an add-on – both are unnecessary and detract from the narrative’s flow and impact.
Thematically, The Sea Captain’s Wife is about the complexities of relationships – between husband and wife, between extended family members, friends, and society – and about the conflict between work and family. Nathaniel’s decision to have his wife and daughter accompany him allows Powning to effectively explore the consequences of a lack of balance between passion and pragmatism.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“In history and in literature, the sea has always been the realm of men, but Beth Powning reminds us that women were there, too. The Sea Captain’s Wife is both a brilliant and absorbing story of a singular woman’s courageous entry into this alien world and of her growing sense of self-knowledge and strength as she encounters its demands. It is a tale of adventure and adversity, and of the terrors and deep satisfactions of life on the ever-dangerous and unpredictable sea.”
— Derek Lundy, author of Godforsaken Sea and The Way of a Ship
"An exciting story. The Sea Captain’s Wife reveals Powning to be intuitive and reflective, yet self-assured in her mastery of the art of nature writing. She skillfully weaves both a harrowing and touching story about marriage, obligation, and devotion."
— Winnipeg Free Press
"An ambitious historical novel rich in adventure."
"The best novel of 2010. . . . A brilliant, absorbing story. . . . Not since Derek Lundy’s The Way of a Ship have I read such powerful descriptions of life in the Age of Sail. . . . Both [Azuba and Nathaniel] are fully fledged characters. . . . And, much like The Hatbox Letters, Powning’s prose never misses a beat."
— Owen Sound Sun Times
"Beth Powning has the gift of drawing her readers into a work. The characters in The Sea Captain’s Wife are enduringly memorable. Set in the 1800s, Powning paints scenes of sea life and its pains, fears, wonders, joys and tragedies."
— The Coast (Halifax)
"One terrific voyage"
— The Globe and Mail
"An elegant piece of writing"
— National Post
“The Sea Captain’s Wife is a terrific tale, fast-moving and expertly told, one which measures, in the author’s phrase, ‘the true size of the world.’ Like The Hatbox Letters, Powning’s second cleverly crafted novel is not to be missed.”
“Powning has a terrific eye for detail, and her dramatic scenes read like a treatment from an action movie. Equal parts character study, travelogue, and action-adventure tale, The Sea Captain’s Wife is a marvellous read.”
— Edmonton Journal
“Powning is an extraordinary writer. . . . Her people are as real as personal friends, neighbours or compelling strangers. . . . The writing rings true to its period without ever sounding like a device. . . . The book is clearly thoroughly researched, yet never reads as written research but as lives fully and panoramically lived.”
— The Globe and Mail
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Right from the start I liked the easy prose, the lovely description and the interest obtained. Not being overly weighed down by heavy words, it is an easy read, but one in which you are eager to read more.
This is a book unlike any I have read , but one in which I found hard to put down. The story line is refreshing, and the characters are fascinating, each strong in their own way. Of course, it was frustrating reading about life on the sea , in an era where woman were really to be seen, obeyed, and not heard, but you will be riveted to find out how this brave and adventurous woman handles difficult situations, including her husband.
This is a book about a test of love and could easily make one wonder about what they would have done in the same situation.The Sea Captain's Wife
I found this book a treat, one which could easily be read either while on vacation or cozy in bed.
Good to the last drop.
Azuba is the daughter of a shipwright in 1860's New Brunswick, Canada. She has grown up around the water and dreams of being a sea captain's wife sailing with her husband around the world. Her dreams seem like they will come true when she marries Nathaniel - a veteran captain. But when she falls pregnant with their first child, he insists she stay on land. But a scandal necessitates Nathaniel reluctantly taking Azuba and their daughter with him on his next voyage. Azuba's dream is at last realized. But is it at the cost of her love and marriage to Nathaniel? What about the physical dangers? Has she put her child in danger or exposed her to the adventure of a lifetime? (This is the kind of adventure I would love!)
I always think I was born in the wrong century and this is the kind of book that greatly appeals to me. Historical - and really, the detail and research that Beth Powning has included in The Sea Captain's Wife was outstanding. I had wonderfully clear pictures of the town, their home, the ship and the ports in my mind as I read.
Azuba is a wonderfully drawn character. Bound by the social mores of her time to do the right thing and be a 'good' wife she still yearns for adventure. Powning skillfully explores Azuba's emotions and feelings as she struggles to balance the two in her life.
The novel is full of adventure as well - storms, exotic ports and what would the high seas be without pirates.
I honestly could not put this one down. A rich tale from an excellent Canadian author.
When I think of Beth Powning, I think of her beautiful descriptions, especially of nature.
However, in this book, she shows she can bring her descriptive powers to the dark side. While there are lovely descriptions of the heroine Azuba's home on the Bay of Fundy, the author also brings to life the less pleasant aspects of being a captain's wife at sea: seasickness, being tossed around in a boat during storms, rotting maggoty food, the difficulty in maintaining personal hygiene on a boat, near-starvation, pirate attacks, etc.
There are also fascinating tidbits of history and sailing lore.
A great story for anyone, and history buffs will love it. I sure did.
It truly was a tumultuous but exciting voyage. This book sheds light into the little known world of sea captains' wives particularly in the 19th century. Highly recommend it! 5 star rating!
I'd also love to see it as a Hollywood film!
Most recent customer reviews
Every page, every sentence, was beautiful. It is a book that deserves to be read voraciously. Loved every moment spent in its pages.Published 1 month ago by Jessica B.
This is one of the best books I have read in a while.
It had lots of suspense and was well written