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?
About the Authors: a Mother and Son Duo
10 Behind the Scenes Facts About the Book
1. Between 1788 and 1868, approximately 162,000 convicts were transported to the various Australian penal colonies by the British government. When our story opens in 1854, this practice was declining, but Australia had not been open for general settlement long. The women fear stopping at Brisbane, which had begun as a prison colony.
2. We don't use the term "mate," meaning “friend,” in our book because it didn't come into popular use until a year or so after our story takes place. If our characters return to Australia in a sequel, they will be amazed by the cultural, political, and industrial changes that will have occurred in just two or so years of pivotal Australian history in the mid-1850s.
3. The Malay pirates of this story’s time were ruthless and much dreaded.
4. This story takes place at a time when shipping technology is dynamically, if awkwardly, changing over from wind-power to steam power. This produces some interesting interactions between vessels and their personnel.
5. To keep the story active and interesting, we contrasted the cultures, life experiences, and personalities of the many different characters. They include a British aristocrat, an American middle class wife, an Australian farming family, a Norwegian fisherman’s daughter, women who have lived years in a Melbourne brothel, and many more.
6. The Victorian Gold Rush in Australia, little known to Americans today, probably qualifies as the largest and most feverish gold rush ever, easily eclipsing the California and Yukon gold rushes in terms of long-term financial and cultural impact.
7. The Chinese immigrant population Sonja interacted with was a source of much contention among British settlers and prospectors. Shortly after our story takes place, most of the Chinese were forcibly expelled from Australia.
8. The massacre of the survivors of the real ship Maria, 1840, was well known in the area, and it brings tension and dread to Sonja and Fiona's discussion of an event still fresh in living memory.
9. The red snapper Sonja caught during calm weather is a large, tasty fish found around the world in tropical and subtropical oceans. Two of Jim’s friends, who are brothers, each caught one in 2014, on opposite sides of the world, within a few weeks of each other.
10. 1901, the six colonies in Australia combined forming the Commonwealth of Australia. This country has its own federal parliamentary government and is a constitutional monarchy under the United Kingdom. Today, Australia has 24 million people, heavily concentrated on the east and south coasts.
A mother and son duo, Susan Page Davis and James S. Davis, have come together to create a delightful new series, Hearts of Oak. Book one in this series, The Seafaring Women of the Vera B. is an intriguing story of a ship with a crew of women. Alice Packard’s captain husband has recently died and now the crew, save one, has deserted her. Desperate, Alice decides to take on a crew of women sailors, some wishing to escape their horrible lives at a local brothel. Filled with adventure and schemes, readers will enjoy the excitement of the story, as well as the interesting and mostly female characters. I would recommend this novel to readers that enjoy historical fiction and a bit of an adventure.
Series: Hearts of Oak
Genre: historical; adventure
Publisher: Tea Tin Press
Publication date: January 20, 2016
Number of pages: 322
Content Rating: PG
Book Rating: 5 stars
A review copy of this book was provided by Susan Page Davis.
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