THE SEAS STAND WATCH by Helen Parker Mudgett


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This is absorbing reading, with so much in it that is exceptionally good that one resents, perhaps more than otherwise, those aspects that are weak. The period is centered on the Revolution with a throwback to 1770, and forward through the War of 1812. The setting is New England, largely New Bedford and Salem, and the lanes of the trading vessels that took American seamon to the Orient and the South Seas, on profitable ventures until the European quarrels and the embargoes of Congress, and the blockade drove ships from British sea lanes, forbade the use of French or British ports, and exiled them to trading between Asia and the islands of the South Seas. Against this background, rich in colour and feel of the sea and the love of a man for his ship, is told the story of the strange marriage of John Noyes whose ship come first, and Julia, French exile, brought from a derelict ship to the Noyes' household, loving John, who marries her and leaves her, and trying to mold their son, born in dread and misunderstanding, but losing him to the spirit of trade through the influence of John's partner. At the close it is the dereliction of the boy that brings John and Julia together. The story reads well; but somehow the emotional values of the book are too sharply drawn, too black and white, ever to be wholly convincing. It is here only that the book fails short. Excellent for relaxed reading.

Publisher: Knopf