Star-Crossed Mass Market Paperback – Aug 12 2008
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From School Library Journal
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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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.
Top Customer Reviews
Unexpected complications arise when Patricia tries to reclaim her birthright, and she marries out of desperation in order to survive. She wonders if she can survive a loveless marriage as well as her continuing life as a surgeon's mate. As if she does not already have enough things to worry about, thoughts of Brian Dalton keep reappearing in her mind after she and her husband leave the Canopus to fulfill their duties aboard a warship. Can Patricia handle the enormous changes headed her way?
Filled with vivid descriptions of sea-life and the historical restrictions that were placed on women during the time period, STAR-CROSSED is an exceptional novel that will entrance readers of any age. When I first picked up the book, I was skeptical of whether or not I would enjoy it. However, by the fifth page I was completely hooked. The action in the novel greatly adds to the piece, and the romantic theme does not dominate the plot. I recommend this book to readers of any age or gender.
Reviewed by: Emylee
And Linda Collison doesn't disappoint! Her personal knowledge of boating and sailing shine throughout, as does her detailed research ... from her vivid descriptions of the seafaring life to the authentic jargon of seafaring people of those days. These characters and settings came alive for me; I felt Patricia Kelley's pain, her fear, her yearning ... admired her bravery.
STAR-CROSSED is a fascinating story of a young, eighteenth century, proper British schoolgirl whose father dies, leaving her in dire circumstances. Her father promised her a plantation in Barbados, but how is she to get there ... with no one to help? What is a poor, helpless girl to do?
Helpless? Well, this bold, inventive young woman proves to be anything but helpless. Wise-beyond-her-years, Patricia uses her wits to get aboard a ship sailing for Barbados. It's a daring escapade as she sets sail on the greatest adventure of her life.
You'll have to read the book to see how truly inventive our heroine is ... to learn of her relationship with bosun's mate Brian Dalton and other fascinating characters. Can a proper British lady find love and happiness with a bosun's mate? With a ship's surgeon? Could this be the meaning of Star-Crossed in the book's title?
Does our heroine ever regain her rightful estate? Or is her destiny, her happiness elsewhere? Well, you'll have to RFY (read for yourself) to find out. I promise you an exciting reading adventure with many unexpected twists and turns.
Bravo, Ms. Collison.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The second question is less easy to answer and indeed is the heart of the novel. Linda Collison brings an established archetype to life in a fresh and wonderfully authentic tale of a young lady seeking her place in the world while caught in the fever-ridden islands of the Indies in the midst of the Seven Year's War.
In Star-Crossed, Patricia Kelly, the illegitimate daughter of a recently deceased plantation owner, stows away aboard a merchantman bound for the West Indies in hopes of reaching Barbados and claiming her father's plantation as her inheritance. All does not go as she had planned. She is discovered aboard ship but allowed to work as a loblolly boy, an assistant to the ship's surgeon. On arriving in Barbados, she learns that her father's plantation has been sold and that she must abandon her school girl dreams and face the grim reality before her. This includes a marriage of necessity to the ship's surgeon, outbreaks of yellow fever, shipwreck, and the death of her surgeon husband. Along the way, she discovers that when dressed in sailor's togs, she passes well enough for a young man, which will become critically important when her only suitable, if rather desperate, choice for employment is as a surgeon's mate on a Royal Navy man-of-war about to sail off to war.
The book is categorized as "Young Adult" and because the main character is a young lady, the target reader is probably a high school girl. Being a considerable distance from that target audience, both in age and gender, I wondered whether I would enjoy the book. I did indeed. Collision's skill as a writer and her extensive research lends a real authenticity to the novel, and kept me turning the pages.
I can think of, though probably need not name, several very popular authors who have written about sailing ships without any real understanding of their subject matter. For many readers this is probably OK. For fans of nautical fiction, all the "sailors pulling on the ropes" nonsense can be most unpleasant. Collison, however, knows her subject. In addition to her research, Collison has sailed as volunteer crew on the replica of the HMS ENDEAVOUR . She doesn't overload the reader with jargon or detail, but that which she uses, feels exactly right.
Likewise, key sections of the book deal with the practice of medicine in the mid-18th century. Her portrayal of the airless deck on a hospital ship or the sweltering heat of a field hospital are harrowing, capturing the sights, sounds and stench of the sick and the dying. One critical detail, often left out by writers of historical fiction, is that soldiers and sailors in the 18th century were far more likely to die of disease than in battle. Readers of Star-Crossed are not likely to forget this bit of history.
Patricia becoming Patrick and signing aboard aboard a Navy ship, also feel authentic. The story of young women and girls who dress as men and run off to sea has a long tradition in song and story. It has often been dismissed a simple male fantasy, yet the number of documented cases suggests that it may indeed have not been that uncommon. (See a previous post - Anne Jane Thornton - the Female Sailor for just one example.)
While the Hornblower books have long been the domain of men and boys, there has been a spike in female readership following the Emmy award-winning A&E mini-series of 1999. (Quite a few Hornblower fan-girls and boys hang out at the Horations. ) Perhaps Star-Crossed will provide another avenue for introducing girls and young women to nautical fiction. In any case, it is a great read, regardless of one's age or gender.
Linda Collison, in Star-Crossed, puts a young woman aboard Royal Navy ships and creates a YA girl's book in the Historic Naval Fiction genre. The historic side is genuine and well-handled, although the focus is (for the better, IMO) just a bit different from most HNF. The reader is never involved in tactics, much less strategy - our view is limited to that of Patricia Kelley, who, like most of the crew of a naval ship, only experiences her little piece of a hugely complex machine. The book is no less lively and fascinating for that. Collison has real understanding of the workings of a ship and a gift for describing them. Kelley's first time aloft is given in a marvelous passage that combines accurate technical information (ratlines, shrouds, futtocks, etc.) with her thoughts and emotions. Collison also uses Kelley's fresh eyes to great effect in describing life aboard ship, gunnery and, above all, shipboard medicine.
Patricia Kelley is orphaned and stows away on a bark under contract to the Royal Navy in an attempt to reach Barbados to claim her inheritance. She is, of course, discovered and spends the rest of the book (since the inheritance comes to naught) trying to find a way to make a life in her new shipboard world. There were not many options open to women who chose to work on ships. The most common (or at least the most commonly documented) was to work in an unpaid and unrecognized capacity as the wife or protégée of one of the ship's warrant officers. Kelley soon finds a place working for the ship's surgeon. Collison devotes some of her best writing to a vivid and unflinching exploration of a surgeon's duties. We experience not only the treatment of battle wounds, but the horror of "yellow jack" and the other diseases that killed far more soldiers and sailors than all the battles put together.
Early in the book, Kelley talks to some sailors about the less accepted ways that a woman might live on a ship. She hears tales of women disguised as men who serve as crew members as well as of famous pirate leaders like Anne Bonney. She declares that she is no freebooter, but when she loses the protection of her surgeon, Kelley disguises herself as a man and signs onto a frigate as a surgeon's mate. She shares her secret only with the handsome gunner that she loves. At one point, a wise old slave woman sees through the disguise and asks Kelley why she is dressed like a boy. She replies simply, "Because it suits me." Collison has given an eighteenth-century girl the twenty-first century determination to make her own way, live life on her own terms and not to be defined in terms of who her husband might be. Patriarchal history has not been kind to any such women who may have actually existed, but I don't think Collison's point is an indictment of history. Star-Crossed offers a fine adventure, an un-romanticised look at shipboard and shoreside life in the 18th century, and an invitation to consider gender issues that may not always be in the forefront of our thoughts. Her website promises two more books in "The Star-Crossed Trilogy." I await them eagerly.
Although this book is listed for young adults, I have to say as an old adult(really old), I enjoyed this read immensely. Linda Collison transported me back to the mid 18th century on a journey that was an adventurous,absorbing and heart pumping story.It's a novel that uses history and a heroine with great inner strength so determined to go after her dreams, that she faces her fears, adversity,illness and danger to make a better life for herself.
Patricia Kelley is the heroine of this sea going tale. We meet her as at a young woman of barely 17, she has lost everything. Her father, her place in a school for proper young English ladies, and her only hope in the world is to get to the property in Barbados promised to her by her father and start life anew. Daringly she sneaks aboard a merchant ship bound for her destination and stows away. Her journey is fraught with dangerous situations, disappointments, and one set back after another. The adventures are non-stop and through it all her life is continually enriched through her experiences, and the people that become a part of it. Dressing as a man to secure a place at sea, learning the skills of a surgeon, surviving the perils of life at sea, and even involved in a fierce battle(the historic siege in Havana),are all means to an end for her. Yet we watch her change and grow, learn to deal with life, as the sea becomes a part of her and she opens her heart to love.
Ms. Collison wonderfully tells this tale through the first person of Patricia. The reader can't help but get emotionally involved with her and see it all through her eyes. You could picture easily in your mind the ships, the people, the islands, feel the fabrics, taste the food, smell the sea in this remarkably detailed book.Even some of the grittier events(the yellow fever epidemic), are given an up close and personal view. The historical events are so well researched, that the read seems very authentic. Each character is given their own strong personalities, and all play some important part of Patricia's life.Everything about it had me totally absorbed and turning the pages. I really didn't want it to end.
YES, I would highly recommend this book to young adults, especially young women as Patricia Kelley may inspire others to follow their dreams against all odds, but it is also a good read for those who love stories of the sea, to be taken to other times and places, and a good adventure book. It's not only entertaining but has quite a bit to offer in the way of history and nautical knowledge. I have a love of the sea and sailing and still picked up new info from the read. Miss Collison has even thought to include a glossary for us, which I made good use of, and also a nice chart to follow Patricia's journey.
also recommended for YA girls :River, Cross My Heart (Oprah's Book Club)- a fabulous story of a young girl's troubled journey that may inspire as well.
For a true story of sea adventure:The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty
Enjoy the read....Laurie
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