An exemplary reissue of Hill’s 1975 historical novel about one woman’s life and loves from the end of the American Revolution to the War of 1812.
After the Revolutionary War leaves Hannah Deems a destitute widow, she has no choice but to accept farmer Seth Adams’ offer to take care of her and her young daughter, Molly. Without the benefit of marriage, Hannah becomes little more than a slave, and Seth’s cruelty compels Hannah to save Molly by sending her to live with a kindly Quaker woman, Elizabeth Warden. Molly thrives as a servant under Mrs. Warden’s care, but when word comes that Hannah has drowned herself, Molly makes a life-changing decision: She will never allow someone else to control her destiny. She sets her sights on handsome young sailor Elijah Merrick, but her mother’s infamous past makes Molly look like damaged goods to potential suitors. Still, Elijah is willing to fight for her honor. But Molly cannot contain her desire for Isaac Warden, Elizabeth’s son, even after she marries Elijah. Molly plays a dangerous game—she may very well lose the one man who showed her the meaning of true love. Hill (House of Kingsley, 1978, etc.) creates a lush, vibrant landscape in post-Revolutionary Cape Cod with historical details that blend seamlessly with the narrative. Molly is a compelling, feisty heroine whose journey from orphan to servant to wife of a sea captain aptly shows how the American Revolution broke down class barriers and made it possible for even the lowest-level citizens to climb the social ladder. Elijah’s voyages offer a revealing glimpse into the perils of American shipping and his determination to succeed as a sea captain epitomizes the American self-made man so espoused by Thomas Jefferson. What compels the reader to turn the page, however, is Molly’s uncompromising will to not only survive but thrive in the midst of her persecution and the country’s upheaval. Though the narrative may drag for some who prefer a faster read, others will enjoy Hill’s slowed pace that allows for full immersion in American maritime history.
Seaworthy historical fiction at its best.