The Story of Land and Sea: A Novel

The Story of Land and Sea: A Novel

by Katy Simpson Smith


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The Story of Land and Sea: A Novel by Katy Simpson Smith

Set in a small coastal town in North Carolina during the waning years of the American Revolution, this incandescent debut novel follows three generations of family—fathers and daughters, mother and son, master and slave, characters who yearn for redemption amidst a heady brew of war, kidnapping, slavery, and love.

Drawn to the ocean, ten-year-old Tabitha wanders the marshes of her small coastal village and listens to her father’s stories about his pirate voyages and the mother she never knew. Since the loss of his wife Helen, John has remained land-bound for their daughter, but when Tab contracts yellow fever, he turns to the sea once more. Desperate to save his daughter, he takes her aboard a sloop bound for Bermuda, hoping the salt air will heal her.

Years before, Helen herself was raised by a widowed father. Asa, the devout owner of a small plantation, gives his daughter a young slave named Moll for her tenth birthday. Left largely on their own, Helen and Moll develop a close but uneasy companionship. Helen gradually takes over the running of the plantation as the girls grow up, but when she meets John, the pirate turned Continental soldier, she flouts convention and her father’s wishes by falling in love. Moll, meanwhile, is forced into marriage with a stranger. Her only solace is her son, Davy, whom she will protect with a passion that defies the bounds of slavery.

In this elegant, evocative, and haunting debut, Katy Simpson Smith captures the singular love between parent and child, the devastation of love lost, and the lonely paths we travel in the name of renewal.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062335951
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/21/2015
Series: P.S. Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 562,139
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Katy Simpson Smith is the author of a study of early American motherhood, We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835, and a novel, The Story of Land and Sea. She lives in New Orleans.

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The Story of Land and Sea: A Novel 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
nfmgirl More than 1 year ago
This story begins with vibrant 10-year-old Tabitha who lives on the North Carolina coast with her father John. Her mother died in childbirth, so she never knew her, but she and her father have a good life together. Tabitha is a daughter of the sea, having been raised with the stories her father has told of his days as a pirate. She dreams of traveling the seas herself, but her father keeps her safely ensconced on shore. After Tabitha comes down with yellow fever, her grandfather Asa draws close to the only thing left of his own daughter and his family, having lost his own wife in childbirth as well. This story leads to reminiscing and goes back into the past to show how we came to the present. We learn about John's deceased wife Helen, her life and how he won her heart. We learn of the friendship that had developed between Helen and her slave Moll, who was "given" to her as a gift on her tenth birthday. We see the tragedy of Moll's life, and how every hope and dream she has exists in her eldest child Davy. We witness a fresh start for John, and in the end of his life, Asa finds himself filled with regret for the things he has not done, and for his lack of kindness and consideration in his relationships. My final word: This is a well written story with well developed characters. It's a melancholy tale full of ghosts and haunting memories. Overall I liked it. The book is divided into three parts, and I found that the first part wound up being my least favorite. My fondness for the story grew as the story built, with Davy becoming probably my favorite character. In the end, I was left with the sea as the past and the land as the future-- and the future is full of hope and possibilities.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
A powerful story of love, loss, and tolerance in the American south! Author Katy Simpson Smith has penned a tale of hardship set in North Carolina during the American Revolution. In a lyrical writing style that evokes vivid images, and through the narrative of three different characters, the author recreates the harsh realities of daily life during that tumultuous period. This gripping story unfolds with a great deal of detail interspersed with drama.   The plot revolves around a woman named Helen, and the most important relationships in her life – her husband John, her daughter Tabitha, her slave Moll, and her father Asa. When Helen dies during the birth of her only child, Tabitha, it sends the grieving family into turmoil, each blaming either themselves or others. The novel jumps back and forth in time and point of view, peeling back the layers of this complex story as each character struggles to come to terms with their own personal struggles in search for happiness and tranquility. This is a deeply thought provoking novel, which must be savored at a leisurely pace in order to understand its intricate characters and underlying themes of power, slavery, and love. A very moving story indeed!
Sue5 More than 1 year ago
Three lives encompass this story. Told individually in each segment. This book has meaning but when I was through I was at a huh. I'm sure the huh was because of the period and thinking of those at that time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JBird55 More than 1 year ago
Not what I expected. This book did not engage me at all and I found the story slow and cumbersome. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Told in three separate stories in a non linear fashion, this story takes place during the American Revolution when the US was trying to break away from the British and the British were trying to keep their hold.  I don't read many books set in the time period, so my first reaction was absolutely positive to read a book outside of my normal historical timeline. Interesting and different - the way the three parts were set up.  They were told out of order and I am not sure that I liked it.  I loved each part of this family's story and seeing the similarities between the daughter (Tab)'s life and her mother's life was very interesting.  Although a few years apart, life hadn't changed and women died in child birth and the relationships with slaves hadn't changed and I loved seeing the lack of change in time.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
And genre sub combos plus text page count and ratings as to violence language sex and any theme upsitting to sensitive reader. this from a review sounds like three separate short stories with little historical accuracy