Last night I arrived in Manchester, VT for Booktopia. As soon as I unpacked, I meandered down to the Northshire Bookstore to browse. Of course.
In their used section I found a book that I didn’t know I needed: Hen Frigates: Passion and Peril, Ninteenth-Century Women at Sea by Joan Druett.
I started reading it standing there in front of the shelf and couldn’t put it down. So, Reader, I bought it.
From the publisher:
In the tradition of The Midwife’s Tale and Pioneer Women — an intimate portrait of the courageous wives of sailing ship captains in the last century, told for the first time in their own words, through journals and letters, Maritime historian Joan Druett takes us into the wildly colorful, dangerous, and most of all romantic world of seafaring women who left friends and families behind to join their husbands at sea.
On board a “hen frigate” (any ship with the captain’s wife aboard), a woman grappled with loneliness and boredom as she strove to create a home on a wind-driven freighter at sea. A deft historical interpreter, Druett interweaves the first-person accounts of these remarkable wives and daughters with the lyrical narrative of a sea journey — from home port to foreign port. The true stories of what they encountered on their often amazing voyages — from romantic, moonlit nights on deck to harrowing encounters with sea-sickness, storms, and even pirates — are more fascinating that any sailor’s yarn.
Lavishly illustrated with authentic seascape and maritime portraits, this path-breaking volume transports readers back to the golden age of sail. Hal Roth, author of After Fifty Thousand Miles, heralds Hen Frigates as “wonderful writing and research about American heroines of the sea”.
Joan Druett’s prose is so smooth and the content is outstanding. I was hooked and so this is my #FridayReads today. What’s yours?
p.s. Druett is a New Zealand historian who specializes in maritime history. Much of her research is done in the U.S. and she’s written a bunch of books, both fiction and nonfiction. I feel an author crush coming on!