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The Pirate Queen

The Pirate Queen

4.2 29
by Patricia Hickman

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Treasure is found in the most unlikely places.

The envy of all her friends, wife and mother Saphora Warren is the model of southern gentility and accomplishment. She lives in a beautiful Lake Norman home, and has raised three capable adult children. Her husband is a successful plastic surgeon—and a philanderer. It is for that reason that,


Treasure is found in the most unlikely places.

The envy of all her friends, wife and mother Saphora Warren is the model of southern gentility and accomplishment. She lives in a beautiful Lake Norman home, and has raised three capable adult children. Her husband is a successful plastic surgeon—and a philanderer. It is for that reason that, after hosting a garden party for Southern Living magazine, Saphora packs her bags to escape the trappings of the picturesque-but-vacant life. 

Saphora’s departure is interrupted by her husband Bender’s early arrival home, and his words that change her life forever: I’m dying.
Against her desires, Saphora agrees to take care of Bender as he fights his illness. They relocate, at his insistance, to their coastal home in Oriental—the same house she had chosen for her private getaway. When her idyllic retreat is overrun by her grown children, grandchildren, townspeople, relatives, and a precocious neighbor child, Saphora’s escape to paradise is anything but the life she had imagined. As she gropes for evidence of God's presence amid the turmoil, can she discover that the richest treasures come in surprising packages?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for
The Pirate Queen
“In The Pirate Queen, Patricia Hickman explores the question that haunts us all: ‘am I enough?’ Saphora Warren has all the trappings of the good life, yet is trapped in her own good graces. On the eve of her escape, she is forced by her own moral code to stay the course. Adrift in her emotions, Saphora learns to navigate her life from the inside. The words are poetic, the story is sublime: you will root for this good woman to claim the treasure we all seek: a life full of love. Saphora Warren is more than enough. And like a true Pirate Queen, she will steal your heart as well.”
—LESLIE LEHR, author of Wife Goes On
The Pirate Queen is a poignant, inspiring tale of finding faith, hope, and love in the midst of loss. Patricia Hickman, you owe me a box of tissues!”
—TAMARA LEIGH, author of Leaving Carolina and Nowhere, Carolina
The Pirate Queen drew me in from the first page and surrounded me. Hickman breathes life into her characters as they experience some of life’s greatest joy and greatest sorrow. Through it all, Hickman reminds us the God of hope is in control.”
—RACHEL HAUCK, co-author of The Sweet By and By and author of Dining with Joy
“Patricia Hickman’s The Pirate Queen took me by surprise. At the start, I thought I was reading a Southern-style Danielle Steel. Then I found I was settling into a one-of-a-kind family drama. Tender, compelling, outstanding. A book you’ll want to share with your friends, your best friends.”
—LYN COTE, author of Her Abundant Joy
“In The Pirate Queen, Patricia Hickman weaves together a rich story of forgiveness and grace. Her characters stole my heart, and I struggled and then cheered alongside them as their lives were refined and then transformed. Highly recommended!” —MELANIE DOBSON, author of Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa and Refuge on Crescent Hill
“Patricia Hickman’s The Pirate Queen was so much more than I expected. She’s a fine writer, so my expectations were high. She surpassed them. From the Southern Living photo shoot at the beginning to the final scene, I enjoyed each twist and turn in the plotline. An extraordinary tale of deep feelings and God’s love.”
—DONITA K. PAUL, author of The DragonKeeper Chronicles and Dragons of the Valley

Product Details

The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
My shell is not like this, I think. How untidy it has become! Blurred with moss, knobby with barnacles, its shape is hardly recognizable any more. Surely, it had a shape once. It has a shape still in my mind. What is the shape of my life?
One might have observed that all of the right people had been invited to the Warren estate for the Southern Living shoot. The certainty of the Warrens’ happy existence on Lake Norman was firmly set in the minds of the departing guests. Undoubtedly, through the women present, the affair’s success spread off the estate and into the notable neighborhoods. The party had ended, leaving the catering help to stow away the perfectly selected china settings.
Saphora Warren pulled down the balloons, plucking them out of the air and then inserting a straight pin into the latex. As quickly as she dropped the dead latex remains, a teen boy she had hired to clean up after the lawn party picked them off the ground. He had trolled past her dock on his Jet Ski yesterday and, when he saw her sunning on her boat’s deck, had asked in vain for a cold beer.
Lake Norman’s shoreline lapped at the Warrens’ family boat in the distance, the mast a cross against a pale pink manse located transversely on the opposite harbor. One house sat like a relic on the Warrens’ end of the Peninsula, a reminder of the older ranch houses standing before the year the lake was put in. It was unseasonably hot for late June. The warm brown water turned red along the clay-brimmed lawns.
Several of the guests had driven family boats across the lake, arriving early for the Southern Living lawn party. Had not Saphora’s housekeeper, Tabitha, just led the women docking their motorboats and sailboats along the Warrens’ dock into the guest room near the swimming pool to slip into garden dresses and brush out their hair, matted down after a morning of tennis? But here the afternoon had been spilled like sweet tea poured out, the ladies already gathering in clusters to kiss good-bye and float back to their pretty houses across the lake.
Saphora noticed she had forgotten to shave her legs. She pulled down the hem of her skirt as if she were straightening it at the same second Abigail Weed, the journalist from Southern Living, noted a few more descriptive details about Saphora’s gardens, the patio containers holding gold black-eyed Susans that turned open faced to the sun. Saphora was popping the balloons so methodically that Sherry, her cook and personal assistant, ran from the kitchen out onto the paved patio yelling, “What in the world?”
“It’s nothing,” said Abigail, taking over, speaking for Saphora, and familiar enough with running Southern Living lawn parties like productions that she said to Sherry, “Sherry, can you help Mrs. Warren?”
Sherry took the straight pin from her boss like she would a child who might hurt herself. “Miss Saphora, aren’t you the one to be doing that?” Sherry said, implying that Saphora should not do menial tasks like deflating balloons. But Saphora was not herself today,
and that accounted for her giddiness.
Abigail put down her laptop that held the contents of Saphora’s “life on the lake” and joined Sherry in killing the remaining balloons.
“This is some place, Saphora. You live in your own fairy tale,” said Abigail.
“Bender planned it this way from the beginning.” Saphora had not noticed before how the high hedged wall surrounding the estate and the trees of a similar height enclosed the house like an evergreen compound. Bender had commandeered the landscaping crew using words like “picturesque” and “palatial.”
“Bender’s your husband, Dr. Warren?”
“The plastic surgeon. Yes. He invented a procedure.” She did not know why she told Abigail that without her asking. But it was the surgical procedure and its ensuing fame in the medical community that gave Bender the things he needed to order his life. He dressed like a prince, closet arranged like a Manhattan department store. He was tall and good-looking.
When Saphora had gotten around to telling Bender the call had come from Southern Living, he was dressing in a golf shirt for his Sunday morning game. He patted her as he sprinted out the door, telling her she was using up the magic from her lucky star. He spread envy, she was pretty sure, as he putted over the third hole. She imagined him mentioning the SL lawn party in a casual way, like doctors do.
This morning he had taken one final turn around the rear lawn, proud the house was selected for the Southern Living magazine spread. Practically speaking, a write-up about them could affect home value in a sagging economy.
Not showing up for the lawn party was his way of making himself elusive so that he would become the subject of the party’s talk. Saphora knew her lines just as she knew Abigail would have fished around the subject of Bender’s illustrious career until she acquiesced. So Saphora helped her cut to the point she was after. One last time. It was not that she owed him anything. Promoting Bender was a fulltime habit.
“I heard about that award,” said Abigail. “Back in the nineties, right? It’s all over the Internet. You must be the envy of all your friends.”
Saphora looked at the four remaining women still mingling on the patio. “I don’t know.” She smiled. A faint laugh fluttered out of her throat. She was not as fast as Bender with words. She would lie awake, and the right thing to say would come to mind. But too late. Her brain was about to explode from storing so many unsaid things. Thinking deeply rather than broadly presented so many lost opportunities.
Saphora was curious about Abigail’s life in Florida. She imagined Abigail writing clever descriptive phrases about the photographs of the places where she had traveled. She made fast friends, probably had to with her schedule. Abigail was a woman who did not care whether her clothes were designer made or factory overruns. There was an attitude about her that Saphora defined as gypsy. A woman who lived to cull out the far-flung corners of the universe.
Sherry joined Abigail, and the two of them set to reopening the still-inflated balloons, sucking the helium out of them. Sherry sang, “La la la la.” Abigail laughed. Then Sherry laughed until Mark Ng, the photographer, walked up on them.
“I’ve got to head back to Tampa,” he said to Abigail.
“You’re always the spoilsport, Mark,” said Abigail. The helium was still constricting her vocal chords.
Mark hefted his camera bag and walked away from them. Saphora had never met a more somber young man. He did not like or want to keep any of the photographs using the lake as a backdrop, calling the lake “too brown to photograph.” Saphora overheard him ask Abigail if it would be improper to colorize the lake photographs blue, but Abigail was a purist. “It’s a lake, Mark, not the ocean.” As soon as he walked away, she said to Saphora, “He’s a coast dweller. He doesn’t get lake life.”
Saphora liked Abigail right from the start because of her secret admiration for cynical women. Abigail whispered sharp criticisms into her ear; she was good at assessing people on sight. That was evident as each Peninsula wife had arrived browned from playing tennis on clay courts. “There’s one with plenty of time on her hands,” she would say.
Abigail was good, however, at bringing people she liked into her circle. She took Saphora into her confidence at the outset, making Saphora feel elevated, as if she and Abigail were circling overhead, their communal laughter falling down on the mortals below.
The few remaining guests lined up along the courtyard quad to offer polite farewells to Saphora, but mostly to ogle Abigail, hoping against hope she would use her magical influence to pick their house for a photo shoot. But today was reserved: Pick Saphora Day.
One of the women was a naturalist named Erin Guff. She thanked Saphora for Bender’s donation to her pet ecological fund.
Bender had not mentioned donating to Erin’s charity.
“That husband of yours is generous to a fault,” said Erin.
Her tone was affected. She was hiding something, Saphora decided.
Erin lobbied for environmental interests along the Outer Banks, like educating homeowners about how lawn fertilizer polluted the ocean. Saphora admired her activism if only because it seemed so daring. She admired anyone unafraid to confront and wished she could have that kind of boldness. But Erin’s subversive tactics were not admirable.
Today Erin stood like a centerpiece among the other Peninsula wives. She wore a white strapless dress picked up in New York, not like the other women, who dressed like colorful birds from Charlotte boutiques. She looked away for a millisecond, long enough for Saphora to come to the conclusion that she had slept with Bender. Saphora should not have invited her to the party. Now that she thought about it, women had weakened Bender’s character.
Erin turned to face her again. “I love you dearly, Saphora. You’re a treasure.” She said it as if she had found wings and flown between Saphora and Abigail.
Saphora let Erin kiss her cheek. But it left an itch.
Mark came alongside Saphora as she unthreaded a silk garland out of the trellis. “Thank you for letting us crash in today, Saphora,” he said.
“Can you send some of the pictures to me?” she asked Mark. “I can pay you.”
Mark’s sleeve brushed her forearm. He packed up the camera but seemed to take his time. Stalling was what a man like Mark did when he wanted to linger around a woman. He awkwardly interjected idle chatter, unlike her husband, who was never without exactly the right thing to say. Saphora was terrible at flirting. She had once filled out one of those personality quizzes that assessed her flirting skills. She was in the one percentile of women who did not know how to flirt. Not knowing how to flirt seemed to make her better, less like Bender.
“Sure. Here’s what it’ll cost you. Tell me how you make your barbecue sauce,” Mark said to Saphora. He winked, she was pretty sure. Very charming, an Asian man’s wink. She walked alongside him toward the front gate. The back of his hand brushed the back of her hand. He was not so somber after all.
Saphora had not cooked one of the twenty or more dishes for the staged party. Sherry had whipped up the sauce in between cooking two other dishes. “It’s the chili peppers,” she told him, sounding more southern than usual, probably because Mark seemed to expect it from her. “And brown sugar. Sherry can tell you.” She had a terrible memory for the details of what went into a sauce or any combination of ingredients that came together so perfectly as to draw admiration. Memory was not her strong suit. She could go downstairs for a cold cola, and the next thing she knew she’d be staring into the dryer trying to remember why she came downstairs. “Sherry’s around here somewhere,” she told him.
“Did I hear my name?” Sherry sidestepped Saphora, flirting above her boss’s missed opportunity. She was African American, tall, leggy. The kind of woman who would turn heads if she could only afford the right clothes. But her voice was still so helium bloated that
Mark turned away.
“I’ll e-mail you, Mrs. Warren,” he said. “Just so you know, you’re the nicest hostess I’ve photographed so far.”
Saphora hung on Mark’s compliment and his gaze until he broke eye contact and headed through the gate for his car.
Sherry finished with the catering company’s associate, who was responsible for packing up the remaining folding chairs. The last of the chairs disappeared into the delivery truck. Soon the lawn was clean again, although trampled.
Sherry said, “This is the best party we’ve ever had, Miss Saphora. You impressed the fool out of those ladies from the Peninsula Club. Not a one will ever top this.”
“Because of you, Sherry. You should take the rest of the day now,” said Saphora, “for yourself.” That should get her out of the way.
“But what about dinner? Dr. Warren, he’s home by dark tonight, he told me.”
“We’ll warm up leftovers. You cooked plenty, enough for an emerging country.”
“I am beat, for sure. I got to prop up my dogs.”
“Go home and rest. As a matter of fact, take tomorrow off too Paid, I mean. You deserve it.”
She caught Sherry off guard.
Saphora walked her to the back entry where Sherry had parked her Kia. She helped Sherry into her car and told her to check in with Dr. Warren Thursday morning. Sherry continued to resist being brushed out of the house so quickly. “I saw your suitcase lying open on the bed when I was putting up your clean towels, Miss Saphora.
You going somewhere?” she asked.
“Oriental,” said Saphora, not looking directly at Sherry. The Outer Banks beach house Bender bought five summers back, in the coastal village of Oriental, had stood empty for all that time. “You should have told me. I could have driven up a day ahead and stocked up for summer. You know how cobwebs take over.”
“I’m in a stocking mood,” said Saphora. “It’s therapeutic.”
“Not for me. It’s just plain old work.”
Saphora ran out of excuses. The late afternoon hour was swimming away, and she needed to get her cook and personal assistant out from under foot. “I left that bag of costume jewelry for you in the bathroom. Did you find it?”
Sherry was on to her. She kept her eyes on Saphora in a manner showing her unease with leaving her mistress to organize dinner. “I did. That’s some of your good stuff. You all right, Miss Saphora?”
“Better than most.” It was only costume jewelry; Sherry liked the junkier accessories. She looked good in bright costumey pieces that cheapened other women’s looks. “This is your bowling night. Jerry is waiting for you.”
“You know me too good, Miss Saphora.” She took her time putting her pocketbook in the backseat, her apron in the passenger seat, folded too neatly for something she was about to put in the wash. She finally climbed into the car. There was a moment when she looked as if she was still conflicted over leaving.
“Have fun bowling,” said Saphora.
Sherry closed the door and started her engine.
“Bye!” Saphora managed to get her sent off, down the drive and out the gate.
A food smell hung in the kitchen. It followed Saphora up the staircase and into the bedroom when she realized it was she who smelled like everything that had been cooked from four this morning on. The steamed clams and chili-soaked shrimp were for the time being a part of the fabric clinging to her skin. She peeled off the blouse and the woven silk skirt and slipped into the shower. The dual shower heads shot the water at her skin like tiny bullets. The bathroom mirrors steamed over so that when she stepped out onto the marble she could not see any of her face or the small dimples of cellulite pocking her buttocks. She cycled four days a week, but her body responded like an old pillow.
She stuffed the nine-hundred-dollar blouse into the dry-cleaning bag. She was leaving behind the expensive stuff, the part of her wardrobe she had passed through Bender’s impeccable filter, and taking her everyday clothes. She wondered if she would ever see that blouse again. Benny Taylor’s boy Eric would pick up the dry-cleaning bag Thursday morning after Sherry hung it on the rear kitchen door. Three days later, Eric would return the dry cleaning—her blouse, Bender’s laundered shirts, and his golf pants. Sherry would whisk them upstairs to hang in the dressing room. Saphora shoved the blouse deep into the dry-cleaning bag as if she didn’t care what happened to it.
She finished rolling up her comfortable traveling clothes to pack tightly and then slipped into the twenty-dollar jeans bought on clearance at Kohl’s. Bender had rolled his eyes at her for slumming, as he called it. It was her happy rebellion to wear whatever she wanted. Saphora packed the Gucci suitcase with a few of her skinny clothes and some middle-of-the-road size sixes since she could possibly lose weight while living alone. Then she included the everyday clothes that actually fit. Maybe size eight would be her permanent state of being. It’s up to me, she thought.
She looked around the Bender-sized bedroom for the last time. Tabitha had come Monday to clean. Saphora made the bed this morning, four hours after Bender got up at three to drive to the hospital. There was not a wrinkle in the bedding. She could flip quarters on the sheets. She opened the nightstand drawer. The items in the drawer were neatly segregated into a tray that held Bender’s watch and wedding band at night. There were always batteries in the flashlight tucked into the drawer that Bender used when he routinely got up at two in the morning to relieve himself. A new set of golf clubs in the bag waited just inside the walk-in dressing room. A mini putter station lay five feet out from the dressing mirror. It took little time to remove any traces of herself. She wondered how long it would take for Bender to notice she was gone.
She zipped the suitcase closed and grabbed a ball cap she normally wore while running. She pressed it down over the two-hundred dollar hairstyle Bender had called “perfect, so perfect for you, Saphora.”
She rolled the suitcase onto the upstairs landing at the exact moment the front door opened. She assumed Sherry was coming back to remind her how to use the warming oven. She stepped up to the edge of the overhang, resting her hands on the balustrade to look down into the entry. But Sherry had not come back. Bender came through the front door instead of the back entry, where he usually parked the blue Lexus, the only car he willingly left out in the rain. His face was white as scallops, and his skin palely gleaming. His shirt was wrinkled, and he had not dressed for the hospital but was wearing a plaid shirt, like the kind he wore tarpon fishing off the coast of Florida. He looked to the back of the house, as if he were looking for her, or maybe for Sherry to mix up a martini in the middle of the day. Had he not said he had an important surgery scheduled with a client from the Peninsula? A nose job, wasn’t it? Maybe it was yesterday. She couldn’t remember.
“Good grief, Bender. It’s not even four,” she said in the quiet of the afternoon.
“Saphora,” he said, breathless, as if he had been running. He was looking straight at her, but not as if he was at all perceiving her. He was looking past her. It was not like him. Bender was always direct. “I’m glad I found you,” he said distantly.
She was thinking about the suitcase beside her on the floor. How to explain? She would send him into the kitchen for a beer and then hide the luggage. He would fall asleep halfway through the drink, and then she would leave. Nothing was keeping her from leaving.
“There’s cold beer in the kitchen. Some leftovers. You like fried green tomatoes. I can’t have any so you might as well,” she said as if she had not already eaten two. Her pulse drummed in her ears.
Before she could rattle off the list of dishes she thought might entice him, detour him from his upstairs shower, he said, “I’m sick.”
The sky was not yet darkening and would not for several hours. Not even a motorboat rumbled distantly from the dock.
“A glass of club soda then?” she asked, nervous, her thoughts spinning.
“Come down,” he said, disappearing into the house. She caught up with Bender after passing the mud room, where the photographs of their three children hung above the coat rack. The coat rack still hung eye level to a first grader even though their youngest boy, Ramsey, was now married and a dad.
Saphora had her first child because she was too young to organize her life around birth control. So she spent the first two years of marriage organizing her life around Turner. He was the biggest baby, her mother-in-law said, in four generations of Warrens. The Warren men came small into the world and then grew to be tall men. They were big earners and big spenders. Bender’s mama had called her only son Bender the Spender. She had passed away two years earlier after a vacation in Austria. Bender had said women who married Warren men seldom lived long after their men died. They lost their purpose.
Turner had seemed like a lonesome little boy. If Saphora had known about temperaments back then, she would have known Turner was born to need people around him. She could have had twenty children and never filled Turner’s need for companionship. She had not thought of putting him in day school until after his sister, Gwennie, was born. Then the youngest came along, another boy whom his brother and sister called Ramsey, after a story that had been read to them in Sunday school. Saphora never told them the difference between Ramsey and Ramses. But the name had suited him the minute he opened his eyes—blue, never to turn another color.
Saphora read baby books and went to a parenting class at a church, where they tried to rook her into membership. Confidence in mothering came too late. But finally the three of her children were in school and then they were grown.
Turner married a girl from New York. She took him away from his Lake Norman nest and then sent him back. He was a charmer but not a good provider, and girls these days are smart to catch on. Turner kept his boy, Eddie, on weekends and summers. He called his boy Eddie because his ex named him Schuyler Eduardo Warren even with Turner at her side laughing and telling her she could not possibly mean it. She was not Latino. All of the Warrens debated the middle name privately. Saphora’s sister, Emerald, said it was probably an old lover named Eduardo. But Emerald was prone to gossip out of turn.
Gwennie was an attorney who never married. Ramsey married a girl who kept him working long hours at a job anyone could do. Ramsey’s first child, Liam, had the temperament to either blow up a building someday or else research incurable diseases. He tortured his brothers, twin boys, until they came running to Saphora, calling her Nana, a name Ramsey’s wife, Celeste, selected when Saphora couldn’t accept any of the pet names for Grandmother.
As Bender continued down the pass-through that led into the living room, Saphora was thinking about her children back when they were young and under her control. It was strange, as if the house had locked away the echoes of them running through the house calling out to each other, only to let them out at that instant.
Bender took the upholstered chair that faced away from the bookcases. He looked awkward in the chair, and that is when Saphora realized he had never sat down in that chair until now.
“You should have seen the Southern Living people, treating us like we were all Hollywood celebrities, snapping pictures of Sherry’s food. I didn’t let on that I was nervous.”
She figured Vicki Jaunice might have noticed her anxiety when Saphora inadvertently dipped her shrimp into Vicki’s sauce. That was when, for the first time, she decided Vicki had slept with Bender, the same as Bernie Mae Milton and Pansy Fulton.
Vicki had gotten her start in business when Saphora recommended Vicki’s cosmetics business to all her friends. The home-based business had ballooned into a sizable basement office with six staff members. She should never have let Vicki get a foot in the door with her friends.
Bender opened a Red Stripe with one twist of the cap, without looking at it or her.
“Abigail says our house photographs like a castle. Isn’t that good?” she asked. “She’s the SL journalist.” Had she told him that already?
Bender could not settle comfortably into the chair. He had put on the weight he often did in the winter but would take it off as soon as he could get active again in the summer.
“I’ve never noticed so many books in this room,” he said.
“I should give some to the library. But they are, after all, our books.” Saphora kept books from as far back as second grade. She could look at one spine and it was like a time machine, like the blue book titled The Last Affair given to her by a boy who kissed her outside the boys’ locker room. He had never asked her for a date. But he kissed her and then handed her the book. Whenever he passed her in the hallway, he winked at her.
“Have you noticed a change in me, say, over the past month?” he asked.
“You’ve gained weight, but then you take it off as you please,” she said. He could gain weight, and women still thought of him as good-looking.
“I can hardly take the stairs. Then, dizzy spells. You haven’t noticed me complaining of headaches?” He had a controlled tone, normally, but his voice tensed. His long, manicured fingers lay on top of his stomach accusingly. “And nausea.” He took a pair of eyeglasses from a case in the table drawer and carefully pushed them up his nose. Then he got up and, running his finger down a shelf of medical books, pulled three from the bookcase. He placed them on the end table and then sat back down in the chair. A faint moan came out of Bender such as she had never heard before.
“Maybe you are taking the stairs more slowly,” she said. His expectations of her were often passed off like a quiz. There were curious other seasons of Bender, as she privately called them, where he went on self-assessment tangents. When he did, he swept her and the kids into the assessments too, over their weight; whether or not she had kept Turner, Gwennie, and Ramsey sweating long enough over a tennis game; or improving their math skills.
Lately he had focused solely on improving Turner, a relief to  Saphora as it took the pressure off her to perform according to Bender’s tightly regimented life.
“It just seems you would notice.”
“Tell me what it is I should notice, then, and I’ll try,” she said, her voice strained, like piano strings stretched too far.
“That I’m dying,” he said, so quietly that a flock of birds outside the window nearly drowned him out.
“Bender, it’s a mistake,” she said, knowing how he worried himself into illnesses privy to doctors. She quietly assessed the books beside him on the table, volumes she had saved from his first year at Duke med school. He ran his finger over the surfaces. Soft particles rose up in the glare of the lamp. “Tabitha should dust more often.”
“I’ll tell her,” Saphora said quietly.
“I’ve gone to two different doctors.”
“Bender, your health is important to you. It’s not like you let yourself go like some people. You know yourself how technicians make mistakes. It was just last week one of your patients got read the wrong x-ray report.” A doctor wrongly told a woman she had a tumor right behind her nasal cavity. “You’re fine.”
His hands curled over the ends of the chair arm so tightly that it seemed his fingers might go clean through the upholstery. “Saphora, you’re not listening.”
Bender had said before that she was not a good listener. She was feeling her oats still, what with her suitcase waiting upstairs. “I can’t stand it when you’re like this.”
“It’s cancer, of all things.”
“I’m not listening to any of this.”
He told her, “You’ll have to call the kids.” He pulled out a pad from the table drawer and the pen from his pocket. “I’m going to see Jim Pennington at Duke. He’s the one to do this.”
“Yes, of course.” Jim had been Bender’s best friend in med school. They actually met playing on the same soccer team. They remained friends over the years, occasionally socializing with the wives involved.
“You’re making a list?” she asked. Bender’s list making aggravated her only less than his flittering around with the Peninsula wives.
“I’ll put the house up for sale,” he said, “if you’d like. I can’t imagine you knocking about in this place all by yourself.” He kept scribbling, as if he were writing out a prescription.
“Sell the house?” she asked, feeling as if the ground beneath her shifted. It was like him to run back and forth, sneaking off for medical testing without telling her. But here he was making major decisions when the air in her ears was near to exploding. She wanted to yell at him. But she sat quietly. She was a good wife—that’s what he had told a group of his men friends just last week. The doctors played cards out on the back deck Friday nights. She could hear how the conversation went from golf to a botched surgery by a doctor not from their circle. She had taken a swim and come back so she missed what got them talking about wives. But she had let his compliment slide off her as she was already entertaining the idea of running away.
“Gwen has the best head on her shoulders. Maybe she should tell her brothers.”
She was the first girl in her class to pass the bar. Gwennie took her father’s pressures on her in stride. Better than Saphora.
“I’ve been knocking about in this house by myself since we moved into it,” she said, but he was busy working on the list. “You’re jumping ahead of things, Bender. What is it you say all the time? Don’t make decisions if you’re too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.” Her emotions were beginning to tear away, though. She hated showing tears in front of him. He considered her weak when she did.
“Saphora, stop crying,” he said.
She pulled open the door on the mahogany commode, where she kept the tissues.
“I want to die in Oriental.” He took a medical journal into his lap. “If I have to die.”
“Bender, the hospital is too far from there. Stop acting as if you’re already dying.” He was making her so mad she felt the urge to walk out on him. But she stayed in her chair as if he had tied her into it with ropes.
“There’s hospice. And Duke is not that far. I’d like to leave in the morning. It’s only three hours.”
“It’s over three hours, Bender, and that’s a long drive.”
He went on as though she hadn’t said a word. “Sherry can help out.”
“For goodness’ sake, Bender! How soon?”
“Six months. Six years. Doctors never really know those things. We guess.”
“What about our friends? We’ll be so far out.”
“We’ll have them up as I’m able.”
Saphora got him a glass from the cabinet and poured the rest of his beer.
“Call Sherry. She’ll get the house ready,” he told her.
“I gave her time off. She worked herself to death for this party you insisted I give.”
“Call her back. I need her there. Better yet, have her come here tonight.”
It was the opportune moment Saphora had waited for ever since Bender had appeared so suddenly in the middle of the day. “I’ll call from upstairs. I need to compose myself.”
She climbed the stairs, swept away by the urge to run for her suitcase and bolt for the door. The luggage was where she left it, behind the upper-landing balustrade. She wheeled it back into the bedroom. A tag from Nantes still dangled like a loose earring from the handle.
She had gone to France two years ago, taking Gwennie to Europe for passing the bar. Bender had stayed behind in Lake Norman even after Gwennie had lost her temper with him for never joining them on a single vacation.
She stowed the luggage, still packed for Oriental, in the storage cubicle of her dressing room. She pulled up Sherry’s telephone number in her BlackBerry. She scrolled past Gwennie’s number, and then there were Ramsey’s and Turner’s numbers sandwiching Sherry’s. Turner’s next nursing shift would be starting come dinnertime. He took any shift to fill up the hours away from his son and the ex-wife who said she loved him but could not stay married to a man with Turner’s low ambitions.
Gwennie would be the first to call her back. Saphora scrolled back up and called her daughter. She heard the forceful little recorded voice answering mechanically as if she needed to place the thought in the caller’s head that she meant business. Saphora left a message to call her and then added, “This is rather serious, Gwen.” Then she hung up and wondered if she had said too little by saying “rather serious.” Gwennie would surely understand why she had not spilled out over the phone that her daddy was dying.
Saphora did not want to call Sherry after giving her the rest of Tuesday and also Wednesday off. Bender surely did not mean that he wanted to leave the next morning for Oriental. Her Oriental.
She walked out of the dressing room, stopping just short of the bedroom. Bender was pulling back the pale blue matelassé coverlet she and Gwennie had picked up in Nantes. He dropped his trousers over the footboard and slid under the coverlet. When he closed his eyes, he said, “When Sherry gets here, have her come upstairs. She can make my calls.”
“Sherry’s not home.”
“Call her cell phone, Saphora. For Pete’s sake, think!”
“Bender, she’s gone off with her husband.” She didn’t tell him they were bowling but left it mysteriously unsaid. He’d not think bowling important enough. But she didn’t want Sherry here tonight in the middle of their shock. “Rest yourself.” Saphora walked into the bathroom, wounded by Bender’s suggestion that she could not think on her own. Her telephone rang. It was Gwennie.
It rang thrice and then switched to her answering service.
Bender yelled, “Who was that?”
Saphora closed the bathroom door. She sat on the closed toilet lid. She pulled paper from the toilet roll, wiping her eyes. She could hear Abigail mysteriously talking as if she were circling again overhead. “You must be the envy of all your friends.”
She said through a sob, “Envy’s an expensive piece of real estate.”

Meet the Author

PATRICIA HICKMAN, author of acclaimed novel Painted Dresses, is an award-winner, speaker and humorist who has won two Silver Angel Awards for Excellence in Media as well as a Romantic Times Reader’s Choice Gold Award for her novel Katrina’s Wings. Patricia holds a master’s degree in creative writing from Queens University and enjoys biking, hiking, and mapping out the Southern towns where her novels are set.

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The Pirate Queen 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
mymissdaisy More than 1 year ago
Treasure is found in the most unlikely places. The envy of all her friends, wife and mother Saphora Warren is the model of southern gentility and accomplishment. She lives in a beautiful Lake Norman home, and has raised three capable adult children. Her husband is a successful plastic surgeon--and a philanderer. It is for that reason that, after hosting a garden party for Southern Living magazine, Saphora packs her bags to escape the trappings of the picturesque-but-vacant life. Saphora’s departure is interrupted by her husband Bender’s early arrival home, and his words that change her life forever: I’m dying. Against her desires, Saphora agrees to take care of Bender as he fights his illness. They relocate, at his insistance, to their coastal home in Oriental—the same house she had chosen for her private getaway. When her idyllic retreat is overrun by her grown children, grandchildren, townspeople, relatives, and a precocious neighbor child, Saphora’s escape to paradise is anything but the life she had imagined. As she gropes for evidence of God's presence amid the turmoil, can she discover that the richest treasures come in surprising packages? This seemed like an interesting read to me. A little bit of a departure from my typical choice. I was offered this book to review and so in order broaden my horizons I accepted it. It was as I expected a little hard to keep up with. For me it wasn't a fast or an easy read. The Pirate Queen is a story that weaves together forgiveness and grace. Here are a few editorial reviews . . . “The Pirate Queen is a poignant, inspiring tale of finding faith, hope, and love in the midst of loss. Patricia Hickman, you owe me a box of tissues!” —TAMARA LEIGH, author of Leaving Carolina and Nowhere, Carolina “The Pirate Queen drew me in from the first page and surrounded me. Hickman breathes life into her characters as they experience some of life’s greatest joy and greatest sorrow. Through it all, Hickman reminds us the God of hope is in control.” —RACHEL HAUCK, co-author of The Sweet By and By and author of Dining with Joy “Patricia Hickman’s The Pirate Queen took me by surprise. At the start, I thought I was reading a Southern-style Danielle Steel. Then I found I was settling into a one-of-a-kind family drama. Tender, compelling, outstanding. A book you’ll want to share with your friends, your best friends.” —LYN COTE, author of Her Abundant Joy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very easy and fun read. Makes you appreciate your family and maybe take time to walk in other people's shoes. Also, a great example of how forgiveness can make your life more fulfilling. Enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Saphora Warren has the perfect life. A surgeon husband and 3 beautiful children. Or does she? Her husband is cheating on her, her children either life far away or don't have a real relationship with her. She decides to leave her husband but before she gets out the door he confesses that he has cancer. Sephora agrees to take care of her husband, who wishes to die in the same home she was planning on escaping to. I was expecting a silly quick read book, and found a refreshing outlook from a lead character and a fun beach read for the summer. I love the characters, the story, and the ending.
JessicaTurner More than 1 year ago
Saphora makes up her mind to leave her husband, Bender, after years of infidelity & retreat to their beach house. She has her bags packed and is getting ready to leave their home, when Bender comes home and announces that he has terminal cancer and wants to go to the beach house. Saphora and Bender take their grandson, Eddie, for a few weeks, because there is no one to watch him. They meet a little boy, named Tobias on the beach. He's a very special little boy that has his own medical conditions. This book is such a great example of love, hope, forgiveness and grace. There were times I laughed and times I cried. Saphora felt like she was a friend. I don't think anyone could read this book and not love her and Tobias. I loved every page of this book! I received this book for free from Waterbrook Publishing in exchange of an honest review.
The_Book_Diva More than 1 year ago
Saphora Warren is a wife, mother and grandmother. She is an asset to her physician husband and has been a devoted wife for the years they've been married. But Saphora has had enough. At the end of a Southern Living lawn party (a party her husband wanted even though he didn't show up for it), she is planning on leaving her beautiful house and philandering husband to regroup and decide what she wants from life. At least that was the plan until her husband arrives home before she can leave and announces he has cancer and is dying. Saphora must now decide whether she stays to help her husband or goes off on her on in The Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman. To say that Saphora is downtrodden is being kind. She seems to do whatever her husband Bender wants and puts up with years of neglect and verbal abuse in the form of snide and belittling remarks. The worst part is that her husband doesn't even seem to know that he's being neglectful or abusive. At least he didn't until he received his death sentence. In addition to dealing with a husband dying of brain cancer, she must contend with her grandson for most of the summer. Her eldest son has to work, as does his ex-wife and the baby-sitter quit so Eddie goes to the beach house with his grandparents. While at the beach, Eddie, Saphora and Bender befriend a young boy with AIDS. Tobias was born with AIDS and adopted but is dearly loved by his adoptive mother. Regrettably, although this appears to be taking place in the present, there's a lot of prejudice and misconception about AIDS and Tobias is persona non grata at most facilities and functions around town. There's plenty of high drama and grief. Most of the drama is centered on AIDS and the reaction Tobias receives from a variety of people, including Saphora's son and daughter-in-law, as well as Bender's penchant toward selfishness. I wanted to like The Pirate Queen. Saphora ends up being a likeable and admirable character, but she starts off somewhat spacey and comes across as just flaky and a pushover. The friendship between Eddie and Tobias, as well as Tobias and Bender is heart-warming. It was rather uplifting to see that Bender sought atonement for his actions and spiritual guidance toward the end of his life. There are redeeming qualities about this book, especially in Tobias's story. Although this does have an uplifting ending, beware there are plenty of tear-jerker scenes toward the end. As I stated previously, I wanted to like The Pirate Queen but for me it was nothing more than an okay read, in part because of the spacey qualities of Saphora's character for the first half of the book and also because the dialogue was a little hard to follow at times. The Pirate Queen isn't a bad read, but it simply didn't do it for me.
justmeWY More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It was well-written and the characters were varied and believable. Saphora Warren has spent her entire marriage being a good wife and mother. Her husband has spent his entire marriage chasing other women. Saphora finally has enough and is packing her bags to leave when her husband walks in and tells her he is dying. Shortly after, her son drops off his child with her and, even though he finds out his father is terminal, he insists Saphora babysit his son all summer. What was supposed to be her summer alone at her beach home, is now long days at hospitals and appointments, as well as supervising her grandson and his new friend. But even when our lives don't go as we'd like, they always work out exactly as God plans. I will definitely recommend this book to my friends. It was warm and uplifting and had the sweetest ending.
MaryBethWrites More than 1 year ago
How does one go from a suburban matriarch to a pirate queen? Saphora Warren makes the transition in Patricia Hickman's contemporary novel "The Pirate Queen." Saphora has what might be considered "it all" by some. Her husband Bender has a thriving plastic surgery practice. Her three children are grown and on their own. She lives in a magazine showplace of a house in an upscale lakefront community. Yet she plans to leave because there is one aspect of her life she can no longer tolerate: her husband is a philanderer and many of his women are in her own social circle. Her careful scheme to escape unnoticed unravels when Bender comes home early with startling news. He's been diagnosed with cancer and expects Saphora to provide him the same level of devoted care she's always given. Her planned getaway to solitude becomes a journey to hospitals, tests and medical consultations. Hickman takes us inside the heart of a woman caught in an emotional storm. She gives us insights into grief, friendship, gains and losses through a few months In the life of the woman who becomes a "pirate queen," albeit without cutlass and jolly roger. The people who come into Saphora's life include an artistic neighbor who digs holes by moonlight, a boy with AIDS and his adoptive mother, a disable pastor and a small seaside town filled with delightful, caring characters. Set in the sailing community of Oriental, NC, "The Pirate Queen" explores the meaning of commitment and caring with many metaphors taken from the sea. As Hickman describes the changing view from Saphora's vantage point near the Neuse River, we understand the internal changes as well. Saphora and Bender have many snarls to unravel as his illness progresses. Both of them must grow and lean on a strength greater than their own. "The Pirate Queen" is a Christian novel, but not a preachy one. As the characters learn and grow, we grow with them. The book offers a rediscovery of the things that change a group of people into a family, whether through healing old wounds or touching new lives. I found it almost hypnotic in its depth of feeling. Readers who like Debbie Macomber will find a similar heart in "The Pirate Queen." The inspiring story will appeal to fans of Nicholas Sparks. With its twists and turns, the story engages from the first page. I enjoyed "The Pirate Queen" and look forward to reading more of Hickman's work. This article is based on a review copy of the book provided by the publisher. There was no obligation for a positive review.
AEHOUSTON More than 1 year ago
When I first started reading the book, I wondered how much I would enjoy the book. After all, Saphora is about to act on her long thought out plan of leaving her husband. She has been miserable in her marriage for as long as she can remember. Not only is she going to leave but she is simply going to "slip out." She will retreat to their vacation home without confrontation. What in the world would I have in common with Saphora? Maybe I had picked the wrong novel. As the first couple of chapters revealed that Saphora's plan would not come to fruition, I also realized I was wrong. Saphora instead would begin a journey with husband she planned to cut ties with. Saphora's husband Bender had received a terminal diagnosis. I would realize that even though I had not walked this particular journey we can all learn about a change of heart. I could still learn about making the best out of past mistakes and do just that, leave them in the past. And Saphora and Bender could teach me about second chances. Who hasn't needed a second chance?
IsabellaRenae More than 1 year ago
Pace: The book was slow to start but flowed steadily once I got into it. Originality/Storyline: The story behind this novel is essentially about a woman who appears to have everything but is miserable. Having been betrayed, she is willing to trade her invisibility to her husband for her own dreams. At the brink of divorce her husband tells her he is dying. The emotional impact of this news forces her to re-evaluate and decide what to do with the little time he has left. With every ounce of strength she has left, Saphora decides to honor her commitment of marriage and stay with Bender until the end, putting aside her own happiness. When they move to their beloved house in Oriental North Carolina, Bender's impending death turns him towards God for forgiveness while Saphora struggles with her many feelings regarding her discovery of the truth in their relationship, Bender's betrayal and issues with forgiveness and restoration of their relationship. While this is not the most original story since the basic elements have been brought to other titles, it is moving, compelling and thought provoking. The story reflects the statement "The grass is not always greener on the other side", as Saphora's outward appearance in regards to her life is vastly different from her inner turmoil and truth of her relationship. Characters: Saphora's character is well developed. The story is essentially hers. While I wouldn't have reacted or not reacted the ways she did, her story is her own. Bender's character is well developed as well due to the impact he has in the story. The two have children who are in the story as well, but are not completely developed. I felt they were added enough to make the story complete but could have been better developed. I felt there was more to their story that was not stated. They didn't feel as realistic as I would have liked. Overall: The novel is dramatic and tender. It is a very emotional read. It's a novel of discovery, betrayal, restoration and forgiveness. Each element address's the obvious but also addressing underlying issues of self with each character, mainly Saphora. While not completely original, the novel was well done. I always enjoy reading stories that throw a twist into a situation that seems to be closed and instead opening it for everything to be laid on the line. It's a novel worth the read. 3.5 Stars...
VUAllyson More than 1 year ago
Hickman's story is a tale of love lost and love found, forgiveness, faith discovered, and family. The plot was strong and engaging. I was hooked and didn't want to stop reading before I found out how it all ended. The characters were well formed and realistic. The dialogue was also realistic and, with few exceptions, flowed smoothly and did not feel forced. All in all, this is a well-written novel. Ultimately, I liked *The Pirate Queen.* I will certainly encourage others to read it and will be loaning my copy to friends.
sjsportsmom More than 1 year ago
I loved the Pirate Queen. This was the first book I read by Patricia Hickman and I would definitly read her again. She had great character development. It was not at all what I expected from the title. Saphora had lots of challenges and made the best of all situations. There were lots of twists and turns that I never expected. This had lots of meaning and emotion and book you could see happening to a family. I liked it so well I am recommending my book club to read this book.
lifein3dee More than 1 year ago
Saphora Warren has it all, or so it seems to those on the outside looking in. A beautiful home, three grown children and a long marriage to a very successful doctor. Most of her peers in her affluent social circle know that her husband, Bender, has taken part in his share of indiscretions. Several of the women know first hand! What they don't know, is that Saphora has had enough. With her luggage packed & hidden, Saphora ushers the last of her garden party guests out the door after the gala, in honor of her beautiful home being chosen an elite southern living magazine. She plans to escape to their summer home, where she will start her new life, minus the philandering husband. When he returns from work unexpectedly early, he drops a bomb that changes her plans. He's dying. A brilliant novel that redefines the meaning of "in sickness and in health". Saphora is a character that many women can relate to. Should she do the right thing? And what exactly is the right thing in this case? Readers may be a bit surprised as they follow her along her journey.
Miss_Scarlyt More than 1 year ago
This novel opens with the main character, Saphora Warren, eager to end a garden party which has been held to showcase her and her husband's home in a magazine. Her ulterior motive in trying to rush her guests and housekeeper home - to finish packing her bags and head to their summer home in Oriental. She's been planning to leave her husband, Bender, for some time and has imagined her life at their home in Oriental perfectly and is looking forward to quiet solitude. Her plans, however, are ruined when Bender comes home unexpectedly with shocking news that he is dying. They both leave together for Oriental as per Bender's wish to spend his remaining days there in the quiet little town, one of their grandchildren in tow. Saphora is overwhelmed with mixed emotions at the situation and her ruined plans. Saphora's summer is nothing like she had imagined it would be. Hers is a story of love, loss, courage and faith. To me there was not a dull moment in this book - the twists and spins start right from the beginning. Mildly predictable, this is an incredibly touching story. It brought tears to my eyes more than once (I am rather sensitive, it could just be me...) and I really loved it. I took my time reading this one (I am a fast reader) to absorb everything. I like that each new chapter starts off with a meaningful quote that reflects what is happening in the story. That's a nice, unique touch. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
Mary_C More than 1 year ago
"The Pirate Queen" is a bitter-sweet, fictional story about Saphora Warren, a woman who has it all yet has nothing. Fed up with the emptiness of her picturesque life, Mrs. Warren packs her bags and plans to leave her cheating husband, Bender; but before she can, her husband confesses to her his shocking secret: he's dying. Out of begrudging loyalty, Saphora takes care of Bender, all the while wishing for an opportunity to escape. Soon, her home is filled with her grown children, unwanted relatives, and the love of an adopted neighbor boy who holds a secret. Thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group (from whom I received this free book to review) I was able to join Saphora as she struggles to love and find love in this gripping novel that will have you rooting for her, cover to cover.
cara_sleik More than 1 year ago
Saphora and Bender were your normal Plastic Surgeon and wife. A marriage that was plagued by infidelity and being closed off from one another. The day Saphora is slated to leave and take some time away, she gets news from her husband that will change their lives forever. Dr. Bender Warren had to let down his guard when he was struck with cancer. During this time of illness and struggle, they learn the true meaning of life. He is finding God again, and looks for forgiveness. Saphora learns what it means to love again and to help others. This book is full of tragedy and love and finding the meaning of life again. It will definitely make you think. This was a great book if you are looking for what is really important in life. I HIGHLY recommend this book or any book by Patricia Hickman.
afamilyofbooklovers More than 1 year ago
I read this book in one day, it was so good! Saphora is a person that some women look up to. Sephora is a woman who has it all and I'm jealous. This is a great read. The book made me laugh, cry, and want more. Saphora is the kind of person you hope to be if someone close to you gets ill. This book makes you ask yourself if you could do what Saphora did. I can honestly say I am not sure. That is what makes this book so great. You hope to take what you have learned from Saphora and apply it to your life.
OurSpecial5Family More than 1 year ago
The Pirate Queen was indeed quite a treasure to read. Most of the story takes place in North Carolina, in an area that is mostly a tourist area in the warmer months. It is the story of a high society wife and mother, Saphora Warren, who put her own needs last for decades and took care of her family. Her husband, Dr. Bender Warren is a renowned plastic surgeon and a philanderer. She has turned a blind eye to his choices and lived as a proper southern lady and filled the role of 'the good wife' and has set the standard for their social circle. After much thought she has crafted her goodbye to this heartbreaking life after the coveted Southern Living magazine photo shoot. She has decided to leave her husband, Bender and retreat to one of their vacation homes. As she is ready to leave, he arrives home and drops a bombshell on her, changing everything. He is dying. As she resumes her role of 'the good wife', albeit in a numb cloud of confusion, she also is finding her true self. She spends the time caring for her husband to find her independence, her belief in God and where she stands in the bigger picture of life. She develops new relationships and strengthens current relationships with pivotal members of her life and most importantly herself. After living in the large shadow of her successful plastic surgeon husband for so many years, she finds her own identity, her own purpose, and finds meaning in heartbreak. I truly enjoyed this book. I am somewhat familiar with the location, so it was easy for me to envision the setting. I think any woman, married or single, with children or not, could relate to the story of Saphora Warren. She beautifully shows the many roles we play and how it can define you in a positive or negative way. The ending of book was not expected, yet not surprising. There are many hints along the way of how it will end, but it is not spoiled by these hints. I found myself identifying with Saphora, feeling sorry for the 'villain' Bender, and enjoying the complex relationships in this family and my own. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did and walk away with some clarity in your own life.
ppreacherswife More than 1 year ago
I had seen The Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman reviewed all over the place, it seemed as if every blog I went to had reviewed this book. While all the reviews were good, I still didn't have much interest in the book. One day I happened on the Book Sneeze site and saw the book listed there, so I figured why not? I'll try it and see. I was in for a shock. Not only is The Pirate Queen a fantastic read that draws you in and keeps you there from page one until the end. Immediately Saphora Warren makes you want her to win. You want her to have the peace she so deserves in life. I even found myself a little happy when her husband got sick. Horrible to say I know, but that's how drawn into Saphora and Bender's lives I was. Tobias is probably my favorite character, entrenching himself to my heart with every keystroke of his storyline. I had never read any of Patricia Hickman's books before, now I will be hunting them down and reading them all.
Sneezybee23 More than 1 year ago
Saphora Warren's plan was to leave her adulterous husband, Bender Warren, and spend some time alone at their coastal home in Oriental, North Carolina. Unfortunately, Bender announces that he's dying of brain cancer on the very day Saphora had planned to leave. Against her personal desires, Saphora takes Bender and their grandson to Oriental. In the midst of the Bender's physical decline, family and friends flood their home and Saphora's dream of solitude evaporates. As it becomes clear that Bender will not recover, he searches for truth and Saphora finds her animosity replaced by sympathy. Bender's search leads Saphora on her own quest and to her surprise, treasure is found in the unlikeliest of places. When I picked up The Pirate Queen, I wasn't sure if I would like it or not. I am happy to say that I did enjoy it. It wasn't a book that kept me riveted and constantly wanting to read it, but the desire to know what would happen with the characters kept pulling me back to the book. In books where a spouse has committed adultery, I think it is important that forgiveness be authentic if it occurs. Saphora's forgiveness was gradual and realistic, in my opinion. The writing was engaging. When tragedy occurred, I cried. When the final chapter concluded, I smiled. I loved the ending. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Press as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
Everyone's definition of treasure is unique. Some spend their whole lives looking for it, some actually dig for it and then there are those that uncover it along their life's journey. Saphora Warren is one of those people. She is well-liked and admired by all her friends, her kids look up to her as a role model and mother, while her husband, Bender Warren, a prestigious doctor, ignores her. Yet her she spends her day, planning for their home to be featured in Southern Living magazine while her husband disappears for a round of golf, leaving her to make a name for their family, while he earns the money. Now that the kids are grown and making lives for themselves, Saphora is about to discover her own treasure when she makes plans to leave Bender after the closing of the party for Southern Living. Bags packed and ready to go, she is all set for the new life ahead of her when her husband arrives home with news that he is dying of cancer. Shocked and still not ready to deal with this latest issue from her husband, she is unsure what to do, until he asks her to take him to Oriental, a small community where the have a house on the lake. This was where she was planning on making her new start and now she finds she has a new issue to deal with regarding Bender. This is about to take her on a whole new hunt to find missing treasure she never knew existed. In the novel The Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman, we take a journey ourselves into the lives of people dealing with the cancer of Bender Warren. In the process we discover that the things we think will make us happy aren't the true treasures of life. When Bender begins to discover God in the process he has many questions that are waiting to be answered. I received the book compliments of WaterBrook Multnomah for my honest review and found myself captivated by the many people in the lives of Saphora and Bender. The strength that emerges from Saphora is amazing for a woman who has lived the life she has in the story, yet with unconditional love and hope, she makes an amazing discovery. I rate this book at 5 out of 5 stars!
EbethTowns More than 1 year ago
Patricia Hickman has captured such an important message for readers - God can and will change an impossible situation into a blessed situation, in real time. Giving the reader both hope and promise, Hickman subtly spins the tale of God breathing life back into something dry. The Pirate Queen starts roughly, but it shortly segues into a well written story that makes the reader become engaged with this family, rooting them on, pulling them back, but most of all, waiting for the unfolding of the blessing with each turn of the page. Saphora Warren is at the pinnacle of a life spent compromising herself and love for the well being of her familial relationships. Although she can recall falling in love with her husband, it is his character flaws that have changed their marriage into a quiet, well decorated prison. Saphora is a privileged woman by all accounts and a good wife and mother - but she has lost herself in all of these pursuits. Her husband, Dr. Bender Warren, shows no tenderness toward her and there is no residual left of his love for the mother of his children, bearer of his dreams. Now with their three grown children all established, and nobody left to give care to - Saphora has determined that it is time for her to pursue a life free of the bondage of a loveless marriage and the demands of adult children. She is all ready to go - except as God will, He diverts her attempts with His plan. As God will, He uses other people and circumstances to direct His people. Young Tobias, summer friend of Saphora and Bender's grandson Eddie, shows them how to love in a new way, and how to open their hearts and find each other. The people of Oriental, where most of the story unfolds, embrace both Saphora and Warren, and change both their lives in the midst of circumstances from which only God can create a miracle. Hickman takes us on a short journey with a family while God is working out His perfect plan. It is well worth the trip.
lmm831 More than 1 year ago
First, let me say that this cover totally drew me in from the moment I saw it. Now, on to the book, which I must say was not at all what I expected. I knew that it was going to be an emotional roller coaster just from reading the back of the book. What is more touching that a husband with cancer? Saphora Warren seems to have it all. Three grown children, a home that is being featured in Southern Living Magazine and a husband who is plastic surgeon. The problem being that her husband has had relations with many of the women in the community and Saphora is done with it. Just as she is ready to leave, her husband Bender arrives home in the middle of the day to announce that he has brain cancer. Saphora drops her plans to leave and cares for her ailing husband at their vacation home in Oriental where they take their grandson, Eddie, along as his father cannot find childcare for him. Bender insists that their first stop be at the beach where they meet Tobias, a young boy Eddie's age, who they will come to find has AIDS. There are challenges for both Bender and Tobias, as far as health goes, and finding the true meaning of existence. There are more challenges for Saphora to find her place in all of this. This is the touching story of the Warren family and is all about what true love really is. It is extremely well written and while I normally would not pick up a book this heavy I am so glad that I did. By far this is probably the best book I have read this month and most of the year. Maybe just that is so out side of my normal reading or that it is just that emotional touching. I would highly recommend this book with 5 stars. Please check this book out.
autumnbluesreviews More than 1 year ago
The envy of all her friends, wife and mother Saphora Warren is the model of southern gentility and accomplishment. She lives in a beautiful Lake Norman home, and has raised three capable adult children. Her husband is a successful plastic surgeon--and a philanderer. It is for that reason that, after hosting a garden party for Southern Living magazine, Saphora packs her bags to escape the trappings of the picturesque-but-vacant life. Saphora's departure is interrupted by her husband Bender's early arrival home, and his words that change her life forever: I'm dying. Against her desires, Saphora agrees to take care of Bender as he fights his illness. They relocate, at his insistence, to their coastal home in Oriental-the same house she had chosen for her private getaway. When her idyllic retreat is overrun by her grown children, grandchildren, townspeople, relatives, and a precocious neighbor child, Saphora's escape to paradise is anything but the life she had imagined. As she gropes for evidence of God's presence amid the turmoil, can she discover that the richest treasures come in surprising packages? From the start I was captivated with this book and what would happen next. Saphora at first seemed like a spoiled woman who did not appreciate what she had. Maybe she was ill, was it paranoia schizophrenia she seemed to think every woman she knew had slept with her husband. Why was she not even speaking to her husband about how she felt? Was he that wrapped up in his life that he did not notice how distant she had become. He is a surgeon and that meant long hours away from each other. Why was she so bitter? It was easy to place myself in her shoes as a woman and feel her life play before me. The characters were intermingled and presented comfortably throughout the story and I did not feel overwhelmed by them. Although I did not relate to a few scenes like when Saphora left her husband at the hospital overnight alone and that night out. These were the parts that did bring me back to reality quickly and I found her character rather cold at those times. Not sure if this was good or bad, since I could see how she needed her rest and her husband was not responsive. Just something I would not do. Other than these tidbits I enjoyed the book very much. A good read that opens up a door into another life. At times I felt angry, joy and disgust all at once and at the end a craving for another chapter.
mylordandmyking More than 1 year ago
I was looking forward to getting this book. It was such a great read that I finished it in just a few days. It is such a heartwarming story of redemption,understanding and knowing what real love is. It was amazing to watch the story of Saphora and Bender unfold.Let me try to give you the bones of the story without revealing too much. Pirate Queen is about the unraveling and then reweaving of the love of Saphora and Bender. Saphora is heartbroken that life and love have left her in a place where she feels she has no value. She is ready to begin anew when she finds out news from Bender that pulls them back together and helps her to realize that she is indeed still in love and loved. We get to watch the metamorphosis of her and Bender's relationship and the relationships they have with their children.Throw in a little boy who needs love and understanding himself and you have a wonderful story. Then when Bender and Saphora understand what redemption truly is ...ahhhh ...then it becomes a truly great story. It takes a little bit to get into the part where the title "Pirate Queen" comes in but well worth the wait. I was provided a review copy of this book by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for my honest review.
BookReviewsByMolly More than 1 year ago
Beautiful.Powerful.Emotional. Those are some of the words I can use to describe this novel. It is both heart wrenching and heart warming, as you walk beside Saphora Warren, a woman who by all appearances has the perfect life, and see the work of God in her life. She was my absolute favorite character. The more I read, the more I became Saphora. I saw some of her struggles as my own. Walk beside her through this story and feeling like I became her, really awakened me and made me take a look around me. It helped see some things and I am so grateful for what I have. This wonderfully amazing story about a woman who nearly leaves her philandering plastic surgeon husband, only to hear news that will forever change her life is THE best Christian Fiction book I've read so far. I've read hundreds of books this year, and as the holidays are approaching and this year comes to an end, I can't think of a better book to help end this year and start a new one, than this outstanding, powerful one. I definitely recommend this book with the highest of 5 stars. Patricia Hickman instantly captures her readers' souls and, through a winding roller coaster of emotions, takes them on a life changing, God filled, incredibly unforgettable journey. Please, don't hesitate. Get a copy TODAY and see the skilled work of a wonderful author.