Motherless and destitute, Frieda Hope grows up during Prohibition determined to make a better life for herself and her sister, Bea. The girls are taken in by a kindly fisherman named Silver, and Frieda begins to feel at home whenever she is on the water. When Silver sells his fishing boat to WWI veteran Sam Hicks, thinking Sam would be a fine husband for Frieda, she’s outraged. But Frieda manages to talk Sam into teaching her to repair boat engines instead, so she has a trade of her own and won’t have to marry.
Frieda quickly discovers that a mechanic’s wages won’t support Bea and Silver, so she joins a team of rumrunners, speeding into dangerous waters to transport illegal liquor. Frieda becomes swept up in the lucrative, risky work—and swept off her feet by a handsome Ivy Leaguer who’s in it just for fun.
As danger mounts and her own feelings threaten to drown her, can Frieda find her way back to solid ground—and to a love that will sustain her?
It is a special thrill as a reader when you are only a few chapters into a book and you know it will be one of your favorite reads of the year. The Whiskey Sea is one of those special books for me.
The book begins with a mysterious image of a woman who is in the water and fears drowning. Then the story moves to 1908, when two young girls are orphaned after the sudden death of their mother. They are taken in by a kindly fisherman, and settle into life in a fishing community in New Jersey.
The first few chapters are leisurely, but the pace picks up dramatically in 1923 when they are young women. The younger sister, Bea, dreams of going off to college and studying literature. The older sister, Frieda, wants to make a good living for her family in her hometown. While she is working as a ship mechanic, she becomes intrigued by the idea of rum running on boats, and takes on this dangerous and risky occupation. As a result she meets a wealthy and enigmatic young man from New York, and her life begins to change. This book is Frieda's story.
The storytelling in this book is just so beautiful. I really cared about Frieda, Bea, and their adoptive father, Silver. The characters are so well developed and multi-dimensional. This would be a wonderful movie!
I have to mention that Ann Howard Creel also wrote The Magic of Ordinary Days, which was the basis of my all time favorite Hallmark movie. I have it on DVD and have seen it many times. Anyone who loves the book or movie The Magic of Ordinary Days will absolutely adore this book.
The descriptions in The Whiskey Sea are vivid and unique. For instance, when Frieda first sees a flotilla of boats running liquor: "A floating liquor establishment out in the middle of the dark ocean, like some kind of magical, mythical circus. It made Frieda think of pirates, mermaids, gods, and sirens of the sea. No one acted the slightest touched with doubt, even with jellyfish, like flowers, floating in the water about the boats and danger from the coast guard boats looming" (pp. 79 - 80).
Readers of historical fiction will love The Whiskey Sea. I give it five stars and my highest recommendation.
Ann Howard Creel was born in Austin, Texas, and worked as a registered nurse before becoming a full-time writer. She is the author of numerous children’s and young adult books as well as fiction for adults. Her children’s books have won several awards, and her novel The Magic of Ordinary Days was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie for CBS. Creel currently lives and writes in Chicago. For more information about Ann’s work, visit her website, annhowardcreel.com.
One lucky reader will win a print copy of The Whiskey Sea. Giveaway ends 9/22, and is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada. The winner will be notified by email, and needs to respond within 48 hours. The author or her publicist will mail the book directly to the winner.
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I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.