12 February 2013

The Captain's Wife by Douglas Kelley, Book review


Publisher: Dutton 1St Edition edition
ISBN-13: 978-0525946199

Synopsis:

Mary's story begins in July 1856 in the heyday of the great clipper ships. Her husband, Captain Joshua Patten, is hired to navigate Neptune's Car on a treacherous voyage from New York to San Francisco-in record time.

The trip is marked by dark signs early on. The first mate shows traces of treason that soon erupt into a plot of mutiny. Upon reaching the equator, the captain falls ill. With no other choice, Mary takes command of the ship. Her command reigns throughout not only the most treacherous passage, Cape Horn, but during the most devastating weather in years. 

Having learned to navigate on a previous voyage with her husband, she now must utilize all her skills as she demands respect from an unstable crew, nurses her husband day and night, keeps the mutinous first mate at bay, and finds as she becomes a captain, she will also become a mother. 


Doug Kelley has crafted a brilliant novel that uses the little-known facts about Mary Patten's life to tell a gripping tale of deception, danger, and treachery on the high seas. In a world of discovery, when adventurous sea captains ruled the seas, Mary Patten became much more than a captain's wife.


My thoughts:

Tall ships have always fascinated the world and our household is not immune to their graceful sails upon the seas!  I am certain many of you have enjoyed the heroic prowess of fictional 'Horatio Hornblower' or 'Master and Commander' for the sheer pleasure of getting a feel for the life at sea (safely ensconced in your armchair just as I did!).

Both my father and husband recounted their individual experiences on the full rigged ship Christian Radich with awe and I know ex-RAF flyboy's greatest wish has always been to sail around the Horn.
It is with this in mind I acquired a copy of the story behind an intriguing and most courageous lady, Mary Patten, 'The Captain's Wife' written by Douglas Kelley.

In the heyday of clipper ships, and following her husband's grievous illness, this remarkable woman took over command of the vessel Neptune's Car and sailed it safely around one of the most dangerous straits, that of Cape Horn to San Francisco.


In these present days, women still encounter difficulties in accessing the corporate ladder so imagine one lone woman's asserting herself aboard a ship manned by rough sailors, a newly married teen in fact, assuming all Captain's duties! 

Neptune's car, was a fast clipper heading towards San Francisco via Cap Horn in 1856. Mary Patten, the Captain's wife, learned navigation along her husband' side using a sextant soon proving herself proficient in plotting a course with charts and the almanac's star tables.


As the voyage progresses it becomes obvious the ship's First Mate is not to be trusted, a drunken liar who leaves the deck unattended for hours at a time during his watch.

During an altercation the Captain is seriously injured, has the man arrested and throws him in irons. What follows is an amazing story of survival and courage of a crew heading into some of the most dangerous waters in the world.
With the help of a twenty two years old second mate and the support of the crew, Mary and Neptune's car survives storm after storm, mishap after mishap, making their way around the Horn and up the coast of the South American continent.

This is the story of one astonishing woman and the outstanding crew who manned their ship, bringing it safely to harbour!
Douglas Kelley excels in his narrative of the unassuming young woman's journey that changed her life and theirs forever whilst earning their respect!

If you like the ocean and a good seafaring story, one unlike any other I might add, this is the one for you! 

5 Stars!


 For those interested in Mary Patten and Neptune's Car behind the fictional recount:

This extreme clipper ship was built in 1853 by Page Allen, Portsmouth, VA. Dimensions 216'×40'×23'6" and tonnage 1,616 (of cargo carrying volume—old measurement). 
Launched April 16, 1853 for Foster & Nickerson, New York. Left New York for San Francisco October 15, 1853, arrived February 9, making the run in 117 days under command of Captain Forbes. In 1854, she sailed from San Francisco to Singapore, then from Calcutta to New York in 109 days.  
Between 1854 and 1856, she was under command of Captain Joshua Patten and during two of his trips, his 20-year-old bride sailed with him. 

During their 1855 journey from San Francisco to New York around the Horn, Captain Patten fell gravely ill just before reaching Cape Horn, his First Mate was in irons, his Second Mate was but 20. 
His wife, pregnant with their first child, had learned navigation during the long hours at sea.  She, along with the young Second Mate, steered the ship safely through the treacherous waters and storms of Cape Horn to San Francisco. 

Note: This review reflects my opinion only and was not requested by author or publisher!



12 comments:

  1. I'll write this one down on my list to read. I love reading anything about the ocean and you've given such a good review! Thanks! Enjoy your week my friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A remarkable story to be sure Diane! Enjoy!

      Delete
  2. Hi Noelle,
    Thanks for your visit and encouragement.
    'The Captain's Wife' sounds like a book I would like to read...I'll keep my eye out for it.
    Have a lovely day,
    God Bless
    Barb

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad we 'met' Barbara! Looking forward to hear more about your corner Down Under! Tell us a bit of the scenery and your craft will you? And I loved seeing your garden! Stunning flowers!
      The book is a testament to women's stamina in the face of adversity to be sure, especially considering the epoch! What a courageous young lady!
      Thanks for stopping by,

      Delete
  3. Hello lovely friend, for a second there I thought I had clicked on the wrong page. I absolutely LOVE your new design.
    Thank you so much for all your encouraging comments, and thank you for the anniversary wishes. :) The concert was surreal, beyond our expectations. It was truly a magical evening.
    By the way, even though one of the Somewhere in Time vintage shoe tags went to Emily of The French Hutch, you may recall that I had originally made five for a swap I never participated in after all, SOOOOooooo, I simply could not resist. :) I mailed it out to you on Monday, so we shall see when it gets there. hahaha Remember last time? ;)
    Happy Valentine's.
    Hugs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My best wishes to you as well for a lovely Valentine's Day (albeit the concert has to be the top! Your son is the best!).
      One for me? Really?? Something to tuck in my 'Memories' box! Thank you so much for the sweet tought!
      You actually inspired us to see the movie tonight, love the music and always wanted to visit Mackinack Island!
      Glad you like the 'new look', inspired by my childhood. I will post someday about my choice and the lovely lady in the photo taken in 1928.

      Delete
  4. Well this sounds like a ripping yarn, I can't imagine being in that position now when women are more respected than they were then, and sailors were the worse with believing a women on board was bad luck they would not be too happy to being controlled by a women so she would have had a hard job ahead of her.
    Merle......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merle, to be sure, this is not a swashbuckling story but a testament to an incredible young woman.
      Douglas Kelley certainly shines in his tale, reminding me of Cecil Louis Troughton Smith and his Horatio Hornblower's novels and The African Queen!
      I am not a fan of Patrick O'Brian whom in my mind attempted to emulate the first, however hubby says the latter describes more 'lively action' in his narrative.
      Someone suggested a movie...A great idea (not a Hollywood production I hope...Imagine Mr. Pitt or Mr. Cruise and I won't even go in the ladies's names...Ugh!)

      Delete
  5. Oh this looks good :) ~Love Heather

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Quite inspiring Heather and I cannot imagine most women (or men) navigating with just the stars and a few charts! Would you believe she was not twenty?

      Delete
  6. I have only just ordered the book "The Captain's Wife", although I have been familiar with the story of Mary Patten and Neptune's Car ( the only clipper ship to be built in the South) for many years.
    I look forward to this fictional account as it is so favorably reveiwed.
    I have always been amazed about this historical event and have never understood why this amazing tale of sailing skill, the intrigue, the danger of the voyage and the heroic actions of young Mary Patten have never been brought to the screen.
    This is one of the most amazing true stories in history and would make one outstanding motion picture, especially in this age of digital effects that would trully present a realistic rendition of all the action and emotion.
    I can only hope that some major Hollywood story teller hears of this COURAGEOUS young women and bring her story to life.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have only just ordered the book "The Captain's Wife", although I have been familiar with the story of Mary Patten and Neptune's Car ( the only clipper ship to be built in the South) for many years.
    I look forward to this fictional account as it is so favorably reveiwed.
    I have always been amazed about this historical event and have never understood why this amazing tale of sailing skill, the intrigue, the danger of the voyage and the heroic actions of young Mary Patten have never been brought to the screen.
    This is one of the most amazing true stories in history and would make one outstanding motion picture, especially in this age of digital effects that would trully present a realistic rendition of all the action and emotion.
    I can only hope that some major Hollywood story teller hears of this COURAGEOUS young women and bring her story to life.

    ReplyDelete

I love to share dreams and always enjoy meeting kindred spirits!
Thank you for stopping by!