Alice Packard, the main character in The Seafaring Women of the Vera B., did not start out as a lady in defiance of anything. As life dealt her a couple of hard blows, however, she became a woman of strength and courage beyond what she had ever imagined.
The idea for this book first came to me when I read the true story of Abby Pennell, a ship captain’s wife. Her husband, John Pennell, was from a family of shipbuilders in Maine, and they had built the ship he was sailing. He died in Rio de Janeiro in 1878, and Abby brought the shiphome. You can read more about this real couple here: http://pinegrovebrunswick.blogspot.com/2011/12/capt-abby- capt-john- pennell.html
I kept the idea simmering in the back of my mind for a long time—a ship captain’s wife is widowed and stranded in a far port. What if her crew deserted her and she couldn’t find anyone willing to sail with her—except a group of prostitutes longing to escape their near slavery?
Months or perhaps years later, my son Jim was visiting with me and said he was looking for story ideas. I read him several of the more promising premises in my “idea” file, and he immediately said, “I like that one.”
Jim had spent some time in Australia, and he quickly saw the perfect setting for the book—the Victoria Gold Rush, which happened five years or so after the California Gold Rush. We did some preliminary research and found plenty of accounts of ships sitting abandoned in Australian harbors when the crews fled them for the goldfields. We were sold on the idea—and knew we had to write the story together. We picked 1854 in Port Phillip Bay, at Melbourne, Australia for our opening.
Our heroine, Alice Packard, starts out as a gracious, genteel lady of New England who has always depended on and been protected by the upstanding men in her life. But her sudden bereavement and the crew’s desertion leaves her alone with few resources and only one faithful friend. She turns to God for help in either getting her crew back or finding another way to get the Vera B. home.
About the Book
With the captain dead in Melbourne, Australia, Alice Packard thinks the worst has happened, until she learns the crew has deserted her husband’s ship in favor of the goldfields. Only one old man, Gypsy Deak, sticks by her, but Gypsy alone can’t raise a crew from the depleted population. In desperation, Alice turns to the only source of plentiful workers: the women of Melbourne. In a bold move, she and Gypsy empty a brothel, promising the escaped women a new life. Her all-woman (save one) crew put their backs and hearts into the voyage, but Alice finds training her sailors much harder than she expected. Her faith is tested to the limit. With a cargo to sell, angry brothel and tavern owners in pursuit, pirates to evade, and a mysterious stowaway, will the seafaring women of the Vera B. survive to tell the tale of this daring adventure?
Thank you so much Susan, and as a bonus, she has offered to giveaway a copy of The Seafaring Women of the Vera B. to one lucky winner. A US winner will have a choice of paperback or e-copy and an international winner will receive an e-copy. Enter through the Rafflecopter below:
The giveaway will run through June 24, 2016 and the winner will be announced on June 25.
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Buy the paperback from Amazon: http://amzn.to/1YY9WXv
Kindle e-book: http://amzn.to/1YY9J6C