Phoebe Starbuck has always adjusted her sails and rudder to the whims of her father. Now, for the first time, she’s doing what she wants to do: marrying Captain Phineas Foulger and sailing far away from Nantucket. As she leaves on her grand adventure, her father gives her two gifts, both of which Phoebe sees little need for. The first is an old sheepskin journal from Great Mary, her highly revered great-grandmother. The other is a “minder” on the whaling ship in the form of cooper Matthew Macy, a man whom she loathes.
Soon Phoebe discovers that life at sea is no easier than life on land. Lonely, seasick, and disillusioned, she turns the pages of Great Mary’s journal and finds herself drawn into the life of this noble woman. To Phoebe’s shock, her great-grandmother has left a secret behind that carries repercussions for everyone aboard the ship, especially her husband the captain and her shadow the cooper. This story within a story catapults Phoebe into seeing her life in an entirely new way—just in time.
In this brand-new series, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher brings her signature twists and turns to bear on a fascinating new faith community: the Quakers of colonial-era Nantucket Island.
SERIES: Nantucket Legacy #1
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Fiction
RELEASE DATE: February 6, 2018
Other Books In This Series
“Do not let anyone snuff out your fire.”
First, let me ask – “Why couldn’t I have been assigned this book instead of Moby Dick in high school?!?” I mean, they both deal with whaling ships. But Phoebe’s Light is much more entertaining. I think it would be a fair substitute 🙂
In all seriousness, the history geek in me is so intrigued by the overarching story told in Fisher’s new Nantucket Legacy series. While each book focuses on a ‘modern-day’ (at least so far as 1767 is more modern than 1660) storyline, it also zeroes in on Mary Coffin – a real historical figure who had tremendous impact on a young Nantucket. Through Mary’s author-imagined journal entries (Fisher includes an author’s note at the end that details what is fact and what is fiction), we get more insight into this fascinating historical figure.
As far as the 1767 thread of the story, Phoebe is the kind of heroine you like a lot but still want to shake for part of the book – yet you also end up being really proud of her by the end. There’s a bit of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ flavor to Phoebe’s story, too. Her father is an eccentric whim-chaser who always has a new (quirky) venture brewing, to their financial detriment. There’s a Gastonish character – a beast disguised as a prince – and a prince-type character disguised as somewhat of a beast. The allusion to this classic fairy tale doesn’t dominate the tale – and may not have even been intended by the author – but especially as the story begins the similarities come to mind.
As Phoebe’s reading of Great Mary’s diary progresses, we begin to see more intersection with the 1767 thread (Phoebe’s thread), as surnames merge between the two. How it all fits together becomes part of the story’s intrigue in both timelines, and there’s more than one mystery to solve as we sail along. While some aspects of the story are fairly predictable, I wasn’t sure, ultimately, how either thread would play out – and there were some bumpy moments when I feared (and discovered) the worst!
As for “what happens next” in the life of Mary Coffin, well, that is another story.
Bottom Line: Phoebe’s Light by Suzanne Woods Fisher detours from her typical Amish genre to spotlight Quaker history and that of Nantucket. Both Mary Coffin and Phoebe Starbuck, though not without their flaws, are admirable heroines and the men they truly love are the best of heroes. The history here is as richly atmospheric as the setting, and while the thees and thous take a bit of tedious navigating this story is an enjoyable read with the promise of more fascinating stories to come!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / Intriguing story!
Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including Anna’s Crossing, The Newcomer, and The Return in the Amish Beginnings series, The Bishop’s Family series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish. She lives in California. Learn more at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.
Other Books by Suzanne Woods Fisher
A Stroll down Petticoat Row
Thirty years ago, I talked my sister into going on a trip to Nantucket Island. It’s one of those places that had always intrigued me. As a girl in the 1930s, my mother’s family vacationed in Nantucket; she even has a lightship basket to show for it. I expected the island to be interesting and beautiful, and it certainly did not disappoint. But something else happened as I walked down Centre Street one morning. This island captured my imagination in a way that’s hard to put into words. At the risk of sounding a tiny bit sun touched, I could practically see 19th century people on the roads, hear the “thee’s and thou’s” in their speech, even smell the strong scents of a bygone century—the musky perfume of rendered whale oil, the burning wood of the blacksmith, all mingled with the bracing sea air.
Centre Street has a local nickname: Petticoat Row. It comes from the 1800s, when men were at sea for long periods and women stepped into their shoes to keep businesses going. Nantucket women gained a reputation for being strong and capable. Their competence was encouraged by the Society of Friends (Quakers), the island’s dominant religion, which believed in the equality of men and women in all aspects of life. That hasn’t changed. Today, half of all Nantucket businesses are run by women.
Petticoat Row stuck in my mind, and eventually became the hook to contract a series of historical fiction with Revell Books. The ‘Nantucket Legacy’ series covers the rise and fall of Nantucket’s whaling period, when it became the wealthiest port in the world.
First up is Phoebe’s Light, releasing in February 2018, a novel about a spirited young woman who seeks her fortune only to find out she already had it.
After reading about Phoebe, I hope you’ll consider planning a trip to Nantucket (though try to go off-season. The population swells five times in the summer!). When you go, include a stop at the Petticoat Row Bakery (35 Centre Street)—the very location where Phoebe grew up, albeit a few centuries ago. Don’t leave the island without trying the Morning Glory Muffins, an island favorite. So worth the trip!
Nantucket’s Famous Morning Glory Muffins
1 ¼ cup sugar
2 ¼ cup flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup raisins
2 cup grated carrots (4 large)
1 apple, shredded
8 oz. crushed pineapple, drained
½ cup pecans or walnuts
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
Sift together sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add the fruit, carrots and nuts and stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with oil and vanilla. Combine with dry ingredients and blend well.
Spoon batter into cupcake tins lined with muffin papers. Fill each cup to the brim. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes. These muffins needs 24 hours to ripen their full flavor. They freeze extremely well.
Recipe courtesy of Pamela A. McKinstry, Sconset Café
To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a grand prize of a Kindle!!
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