Published by Brilliance Audio, Lake Union Publishing on August 23rd 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction
Motherless and destitute, Frieda Hope grows up during Prohibition determined to make a better life for herself and her sister, Bea. The girls are taken in by a kindly fisherman named Silver, and Frieda begins to feel at home whenever she is on the water. When Silver sells his fishing boat to WWI veteran Sam Hicks, thinking Sam would be a fine husband for Frieda, she’s outraged. But Frieda manages to talk Sam into teaching her to repair boat engines instead, so she has a trade of her own and won’t have to marry.
Frieda quickly discovers that a mechanic’s wages won’t support Bea and Silver, so she joins a team of rumrunners, speeding into dangerous waters to transport illegal liquor. Frieda becomes swept up in the lucrative, risky work—and swept off her feet by a handsome Ivy Leaguer who’s in it just for fun.
As danger mounts and her own feelings threaten to drown her, can Frieda find her way back to solid ground—and to a love that will sustain her?
#Rumrunners #RoaringTwenties #AnnHowardCreel #Prohibition @AngelaDaweVoice @audible_com
One of the many things that struck me while listening to The Whiskey Sea by Ann Howard Creel is how times have changed. Before you say “Duh,” let me say the story takes place in the so-called Roaring Twenties, a time when the disparity between the haves and the have-nots was a broad chasm. Can you imagine living across the bay from New York City and never having been there? That is a difficult concept for us in our age of easy travel and access to places we would like to visit, but that simple fact makes a statement about the life of Frieda Hope and why she is so easily tempted by the highly illegal underground world that emerged from Prohibition. With few marketable skills and no desire to marry, she is easily caught up in the lucrative but not so easy life of rum running. Frieda is a character who is going to steal your heart from the first time she opens her mouth in response to a question as to whether or not she talks. “I talk when I have something to say,” says five-year-old Frieda. This statement just about sums up her no-nonsense character as she grows to adulthood in an environment where she is widely regarded as trash. Frieda has so much courage and spunk initially, I just knew she was going to rise like a Phoenix from her ashes, but when she begins to make bad decisions, her character becomes a bit more predictable. She succumbs to the lure of easy money in the rum running trade as well as falling for a pretty rich boy whose motive for being involved in the trade is not survival but rebellion against a family and a class whose expectations he lacks the courage to resist. Ironically, this young man who seems to have everything perceives himself rather than Frieda as being the one without choices. In a singular moment of honesty, the man Frieda calls Princeton declares himself to have no moral compass, and by making that declaration, he becomes one of the most insightful characters in the book. Choosing to stay in the relationship even after his declaration, Frieda jeopardizes the chance of a good life that is right in front of her. Not exactly a breakout storyline, but one thing that makes this book extraordinary is the author’s descriptive language and attention to detail. You will have no problem feeling the call of the sea or placing yourself in a time when alcohol was illegal and the pursuit of obtaining it both to drink and to sell was a way of life.
The second thing that makes the book extraordinary is the narrator, Angela Dawe. I was familiar with the author from reading her previous book, While You Were Mine, but I had not listened to any of Ms. Dawe’s work. She is definitely an accomplished narrator! She has a distinctive voice for each character, male or female, child or adult. Her performance significantly enhances the author’s work.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I recommend it to those who like historical fiction or who have an interest in the Prohibition era. The characters are flawed but likable, and you will often want to yell “Snap out of it!” Mistakes will be made and forgiven, love and lust will put hearts and lives at risk, characters will act with undaunted courage and craven cowardice . . . in other words, the gamut of human qualities and emotions are communicated by a gifted storyteller. I think you will find the ending satisfying and, as is so often the case in life, you’ll wonder why it had to be such a difficult journey.