About the BookBook Title: Minding the Light
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher
Genre: Historical Romance
Release date: July 3, 2018
Six long years ago, Captain Reynolds Macy sailed away from his bride, looking forward to the day when he would return to Nantucket Island with a ship’s hold full of whale oil. But when that momentous day finally arrives, Ren soon discovers that everything has changed in his absence. Everything. “Is nothing on this island as it appears to be?” he whispers in despair.
Unlike most islanders, bold and spirited Daphne Coffin doesn’t defer to Ren as an authoritative whalemaster, but sees through his aloofness to the aching heart beneath. She encourages him to return to his Quaker roots and “mind the Light,” finding solace in God and community. As Ren becomes the man she believes him to be–honorable, wise, faithful–she finds herself falling in love with him.
But how can she, when her heart is spoken for? Tristram Macy is Ren’s business partner, cousin, and best friend–and Daphne’s fiancé. Love always comes at a cost, but when is the price too high?
Suzanne Woods Fisher welcomes readers back to the Quaker community on Nantucket Island for this riveting love story, full of unexpected moments.
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The Nantucket Legacy series by Suzanne Woods Fisher is a gem in the fiction world, and Minding the Light is even more engrossing than the previous story. It has that flawless blend of vivid setting, rich characterization, emotional depth, and compelling narrative that give it the “Wow” factor for me.
19th century Nantucket comes alive in this story where historical research is impeccable and period detail becomes the visual framework of this story. I could almost literally see the unpaved town streets, hear the ocean waves, and even catch the scent of whale oil coming from the harbor. I’ve always been drawn to New England and been blessed to visit Nantucket, which made this story even more special.
Minding the Light has an unusual complexity and emotional draw that pulled me in from the first page. Ren, eagerly returning home after a six-year whaling expedition, discovers an ailing wife, family he didn’t know existed, and financial troubles. I felt so connected to this richly-drawn character who loved the sea … “He was never happier, never more alive than when he was guiding his ship safely through a tempest. In a way, he took pleasure in reading the sea, mastering her moods.”
Entries from the journal of Mary Coffin Starbuck two hundred years earlier seamlessly blend with Ren and Daphne lives with many similarities. And then there’s the rough-around-the-edges character of Lillian, Daphne’s mother, who “was quite fond of her grudges, nursing them like little pets.” There’s nothing predictable about this story, and it ends with a shocker that, in retrospect, I should have seen coming.
Quaker beliefs aren’t easy for me to understand, but they played an integral part of Nantucket life during this era. To me, the “light within” is Jesus. Hypocrisy and race intolerance infiltrated faith, just as today. Although Quakers were against slavery, they wanted no part of social equalization. So many historical nuggets fill these pages!
Very highly recommended. Minding the Light goes on my “best of the best” list.
I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
About the Author
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Guest Post from Suzanne8 Curious Facts you Probably Didn’t Know about Nantucket Island
This beautiful island, thirty miles off Cape Cod, is steeped in history. Here are just a few interesting reasons to add a visit to Nantucket to your bucket list.
1) During the first half of the nineteenth century, Nantucket was considered to be the wealthiest port in the world…all because of whale oil.
2) Petticoat Row is a 19th century nickname for a portion of Centre Street between Main Street and Broad Street. Many shops on Nantucket were run by women while the men were off to sea in whaling ships for years at a time. Quakerism, with its emphasis on equality, provided working women with community respect, value and esteem. The next time you’re visiting Nantucket, be sure to stop by the Petticoat Row Bakery for a morning glory muffin.
3) The use of laudanum (opium) was described by a visiting French as prevalent among the women of Nantucket. Loyal Nantucketers vehemently denied his claim. However, in the 1980s, construction workers digging to Nantucket’s sewer lines found heaps of opium bottles buried in the ground.
For centuries, laudanum was considered to be not only harmless but beneficial. Its very name in Latin is landare, which means to praise. Other names for it: Mother’s Helper (to sedate children), Sea Calm (for seasickness). It was used for all kinds of ailments, from sleeplessness to menstrual cramps to treatment of chronic pain, and available without prescription up until the twentieth century, when it was found to be highly addictive.
4) Nantucket Cent Schools were a carryover from England and the cost was exactly what the name implied. In New England they were kept by refined, thrifty women who often taught their own or their neighbors’ children until they were old enough to enter schools of a higher grade. I came across a story of a boy whose mother stuck a penny in his mouth each day so that he would remember to pay the teacher.
5) Moby Dick, written by Herman Melville in 1851, was based on a true-life event that occurred in 1820 to the Nantucket whaleship Essex and her crew. You can find out more about this ill-fated voyage if you visit Nantucket’s awesome whaling museum.
6) Speaking of…the whaling museum on Nantucket Island is called the Peter Foulger Whaling Museum. Peter Foulger was one of the early settlers to the island, and could be considered a Renaissance Man: inventor, surveyor, teacher, missionary to the Wampanoag Indians. And his grandson was none other than Benjamin Franklin.
7) Nantucketers were, for the most part, related to each other in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. The prosperous island was settled by a small group of families, with less than a dozen surnames: Coffin, Macy, Starbuck, Bunker, Hussey, Gardner, Mayhew, Swain, Barnard, Coleman, Worth, Mitchell. Those names are still common on the island.
8) There’s a good reason those surnames sound familiar to you—many of those early settlers had descendants who started business empires. Recognize these? Macy (retailer) and Folger (coffee).
To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a $10 Starbucks gift card to five winners!!
Be sure to leave a comment on one of the blog stops for 9 extra entries into the giveaway. Click the image above or the link below to enter.
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