Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: August 26, 2014
Category: Historical fiction
Source: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
I usually don't post reviews earlier than the publication dates, but this one falls on the second day of school for me, so this avoids it being forgotten! The Story of Land and Sea drew me in because of it's historical setting, as well as the idea of generations of characters' stories being told. To give a quick summary and get to my opinion, here are pieces of the book jacket version from Goodreads: Set in a small coastal town in North Carolina during the waning years of the American Revolution...
Drawn to the ocean, ten-year-old Tabitha wanders the marshes and listens to her father’s stories about his pirate voyages and the mother she never knew. When Tab contracts yellow fever, desperate to save his daughter, he takes her aboard a sloop bound for Bermuda, hoping the salt air will heal her.
Years before, Helen [Tab's mother] was raised by a widowed father. Asa, the devout owner of a small plantation, gives his daughter a young slave named Moll for her tenth birthday. Helen gradually takes over the running of the plantation as the girls grow up, but when she meets John, she falls in love. Moll, meanwhile, is forced into marriage with a stranger. Her only solace is her son, Davy, whom she will protect with a passion that defies the bounds of slavery.
In this elegant, evocative, and haunting debut, Katy Simpson Smith captures the singular love between parent and child, the devastation of love lost, and the lonely paths we travel in the name of renewal.
The first section of the book, about Tabitha and her father John, was interesting. I cared about them and wanted to see where life would take them. When the story flashes back to Helen's (Tabitha's mother and John's wife) childhood and growing up, I was even more so interested. There was also a bit more action to this part of the story than the first.
However, after those two sections the book seems to dissolve into a puddle of misery, or at least the characters do. Granted, there is much to be miserable about. Death and the horrendous lives of slaves are nothing to celebrate, but the characters go on for pages mulling over the purpose of their lives, others around them, and God at this sad point. I understand things don't wrap up easily in real life, but in a book you can repeat certain things only so many times before moving on to the next piece of the story.
If I had to rate it, I might give it a three, but it could land a two on some scales because of its slow ending. Overall, most of the book was good and I liked the writing itself, so I would probably read another book from this author.