North Carolina, 1793. When nine-year-old Tab catches yellow fever, her father John steals her onto a boat, hoping the sea air will cure his only child. For comfort, he tells Tab stories about her mother Helen, who died in childbirth.
Two decades earlier, Helen is given a slave girl for her tenth birthday. Moll’s arrival is meant to teach Helen discipline but soon the girls are close confidantes, until the arrival of John, a pirate turned soldier. And as the town is threatened in the dying embers of the Revolution, Helen must decide between a life of security on the family plantation and a sea adventure with the man she loves.
About the author
Katy Simpson Smith was born and raised in Jackson,
Mississippi. She attended Mount Holyoke College
and received a PhD in history from the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA from the
Bennington Writing Seminars. She has been working as
an adjunct professor at Tulane University and has published
a study of early American motherhood, We Have
Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750–1835.
She lives in New Orleans.
‘Pure pleasure…the best novel I’ve read all year’ Anita Shreve
‘A wonderful novel of heartbreaking grief but also of redemptive hope … In high but warranted praise it very much evoked Marilynne Robinson’s acclaimed GILEAD’ Chicago Tribune (Editor’s Pick)
‘Poignant and intensely lyrical’ NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
‘Smith’s soulful language of loss is almost biblical, and the descriptions of her characters’ sorrows are poetic and moving’ PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
‘From the start, Ms. Smith’s spare, rhythmic prose captivates Her refusal to serve up false redemption is admirable’ NEW YORK TIMES
‘Smith has a real gift for describing both hope and despair … she is absolutely a writer to watch’ NPR
‘Among the most assured debut novels in recent memory, it heralds the birth of a major new talent’ VOGUE
‘Astonishingly relatable characters’ HUFFINGTON POST