Bloomsbury, £12.99 Order at a discount from the Independent Online Shop
She Rises, By Kate Worsley
Enjoy a stormy, sensual – and deftly plotted – adventure with the Georgian seafarers of Essex
Friday 19 April 2013
For those readers eagerly anticipating the next effort from the queen of historical revisionism Sarah Waters, look no further than Kate Worsley's debut novel. The maritime adventure She Rises will tide you over nicely.
The year is 1740 and young Louise Fletcher leaves the humdrum routine of an Essex farm for the hustle and bustle of the naval port of Harwich, swapping her life as a dairymaid for service in a wealthy captain's townhouse. Louise has been raised on her landlocked mother's cautionary tales of the allure of the sea – both Louise's father and brother abandoned their womenfolk for adventure on the choppy waves. "Men always leave," her mother warns, "and the sea never gives them up, once she's got them".
Louise's new mistress is like nobody she has ever met. The widowed captain's beautiful daughter, Rebecca Handley, is untutored in womanly ways, doesn't know how to manage a household, number linen, keep track of the wine cellar, or even get a stain out of fine cambric. One minute she plays the respectable young lady, the next her coarse language rivals that of the port's liveliest tars.
Louise is captivated and confused, and so begins a merry dance between mistress and maid that ends in an unconventional arrangement. As the closeness between the two women deepens, Louise discovers something locked away inside of her, "like treasure in a chest", that eventually throws the life they've made together into disarray.
Harwich, however, is a dangerous place for a young boy. After a night drinking in one of the town's taverns, 15-year-old Luke wakes in the bowels of the warship Essex to find that he's been beaten and pressganged into "His Majesty's damned whore-son Navy". An "elver amongst pikes", haunted by the memories of the life he left behind, young Luke soon realises that life at sea is all about survival. Despite the brutal hardships on board a warship, soon he's "slipped his mooring, can scarce remember what it is to feel anchored," and answers to a new mistress: "She has him now, the sea".
Each navigating their own choppy waters, Luke and Louise are on a collision course that is meticulously and elegantly plotted from the very first page. The moment of their meeting, when it arrives, is jaw-droppingly good. Packed with smugglers and secret passages, rum-toting sailors, romance, and adventures in exotic parts, She Rises sings to its reader with the dulcet hypnotising tones of its true heroine, the sea; luring you in, then lulling you into its rolling pace.
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
- 2 Ridley Scott on Exodus, Gods and Kings casting: 'I'm not going to get it financed if my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such'
- 3 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 4 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 5 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' close to camp
This house and dental clinic 'piled up like bricks on the brink of collapsing' is why Japan wins at architecture
Ridley Scott on Exodus, Gods and Kings casting: 'I'm not going to get it financed if my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such'
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Jurassic World trailer already facing criticism from palaeontologists
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Veena Malik sentenced to 26 years in jail for blasphemy after appearing in mock TV wedding scene