I have to start by saying that I loved this book. It’s set in 19th century Cape Cod, and follows both the story of Hannah Snow who is married to the Light keeper, John Snow; and Annie, married to ship captain, Daniel. Both women rebel against their “place” in society: Annie in an extremely violent way, eventually transforming first into the pirate “Blue”, and then the sailor William “Billy” Pike; while Hannah who grew up helping her fisherman father while young, and then once too “old” for such work, forced by the conventions of the day (and her mother) to work in the shop owned by her mother in an effort to marry her off.
By defying her absent husband, who in the past hasn’t rescued drowning sailors, Hannah goes out into a storm and rescues the drowning Billy. She then lets him stay with her while her husband is first presumed missing, and then dead; Hannah refuses to act within the confines of societal norms. Over the course of the book, Hannah finds herself attracted to Billy, even after learning the truth of “his” sexuality.
I really liked that this book took the time to explain through both these women’s lives how conscripted women’s lives actually were. At a time when so many young women post how they are not feminists, it’s important to remember exactly what life was like before Emmeline Pankhurst, Marie Stopes, Mary Wollstonecraft, Susan B. Anthony, Simone de Beauvoir, among many others, began the hard work of changing our lives. It’s much too easy for modern woman to forget where women were and how far they’ve come. I seriously doubt that those girls and woman who like to say that they’re not feminists would enjoy not being allowed schooling, and really having only the jobs of whore or cleaner available to them. This book would be an enjoyable way of helping them understand what it truly means to be a feminist. For this reason, and others, I recommend this book, as it’s one of those rare books that you will be thinking about long after you finished reading the last page.