“The Sea Captain’s Wife” by Beth Powning

seacaptainswife.jpegThis is the very exciting story of a wife who joined her husband on harrowing adventures at sea during the last days of the Age of Sail off Canada’s Atlantic coast.

This was the l860’s. Azuba Bradstock had married Nathaniel and presumed she would stay with him when he took the next cargo abroad. He refused to take her with him, and she spent months in Whelan’s Cove overlooking the Bay of Fundy, looking after her young daughter and hating the life of captains’ wives left at home. The next trip she and young Carrie joined the ship.

The writing and descriptions of their adventures is breath-taking. These trips covered the whole map: over to England, with gala days in London, then down to South America with excruciating days in The Doldrums, food running low, wild storms that almost prevented their rounding Cape Horn and a mutiny en route to San Francisco. By the time they got home, Azuba accepted her husband’s views, and skipped the next trip. She would make one more voyage, complete with a new baby and nurse-maid and this time she stepped in to save her husband’s life when pirates boarded their ship and beat up the crew.

This book goes way back before “women’s lib” but it does raise, in a tumultuous way, a woman’s place in a world where the husband has to make wrenching decisions in the face of an ever-demanding sea. Beth Powning lives in New Brunswick and writes brilliantly about this world. She has written four earlier books.

Review by Anne McDougall