Sunday, August 21, 2016

Bookish Thoughts: The Whiskey Sea by Ann Howard Creel

She opened her eyes to blackness. ~ Opening of The Whiskey Sea


The Whiskey Sea by Ann Howard Creel
Lake Union Publishing, 2016
Fiction; 300 pgs

From Goodreads: 
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?
I was instantly drawn into The Whiskey Sea, the story of Frieda Hope, a young woman with the world on her shoulders. Just out of high school, Frieda's dreams are wrapped up in caring for her sister, Bea, and in carrying for the ailing fisherman who took she and her sister in when they were young children. Frieda loves the sea and wants nothing more than to earn her living the same way Silver had. Frieda is both stubborn and determined. Her heart is in the right place, but she does not always see beyond her own thoughts and ideas. This is a theme we see throughout the novel, as Frieda matures and grows into the woman she will become.

Most of what I know about the Prohibition era is what I learned from history books and organized crime movies and shows (i.e. Boardwalk Empire). Occasionally a novel will take me into a speakeasy, but the focus is rarely on Prohibition itself. Prohibition was a Constitutional law (the 18th Amendment) prohibiting the production, importing, transportation and sale of alcohol throughout the United States. Frieda's decision to join a rum running team did not come easy. She would be putting her own life at risk, not to mention breaking the law. The lure of making fast money--and a lot of it--is too good to pass up, however, and Frieda soon finds herself drawn into rum running. Especially given Silver's poor health and Bea's future to look after.

The author really brings to the forefront the changes rum running went through over the course of the Prohibition era. From being a local free for all to becoming more organized, from a party atmosphere to a more dangerous business, as time went on. Even enforcement of the law changed over time, as can be seen as Frieda and her team run into more obstacles. Seeing all this come together was perhaps my most favorite part of the novel.

For me, The Whiskey Sea is more a coming of age story. Frieda's lead a sheltered life in many respects, even with the hardships she has faced. Her world expands when she becomes a boat mechanic and then a rum runner. As someone who prides herself for her independence and self-preservation, falling in love with a gentleman with money is last thing she expects. The handsome Charles is intrigued by Frieda, who wears trousers and drinks with men. She is unlike anyone else he has met.

Sam Hicks and Bea Hope are minor characters in the novel, but both play large roles in Frieda's life. Bea is so different from her sister in temperament and life experience. Sam is more so the faithful friend and moral compass of the novel. I adored him.

I cannot say I was surprised by the direction the novel took. Whether in love or rum running, it was pretty obvious to me how everything would turn out. Still, I enjoyed this novel quite a bit, getting to know Frieda and her family and friends. And I love Ann Howard Creel's writing style.

The historical aspects of the novel were what most intrigued me in this novel, but I also was quite taken with Frieda's own journey and growth as a character. She did not always make the best choices and faced the consequences as a result, but as is true for many of us, these are lessons we need to learn on our own. They are what shape us and make us who we are.  Overall, I enjoyed  The Whiskey Sea.


To learn more about Ann Howard Creel and her work, please visit the author's websiteShe can also be found on Goodreads.


I hope you will check out what others had to say about June on the TLC Book Tours route!







Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour.  Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review.


© 2016, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

28 comments:

  1. A book I've seen featured on a few blogs over the last few days. It seems to me The Whiskey Sea is one of those books readers either really like or hate.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Definitely a read I'd pick up if I were to see it in the library but alas not one I can see myself buying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tracy - I haven't read too many reviews of it, although of those I have I've seen mostly positive reviews. I think, like with any book, it depends on the audience. I hope to try the author's other work at some point.

      Delete
  2. I'm finishing up this one today and am on the tour for Thursday. I think I felt about the same way as you did. I was definitely pulled in from the first and I really liked Frieda even though I wanted to shake her a few times. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katherine - I am glad you ended up enjoying this one too, Katherine. Yes, I definitely found myself wanting to shake Frieda too.

      Delete
  3. What a wonderful, informative review! I had dismissed thoughts of reading this because I'm not fond of the era it takes place in, but your thoughts drew me in. Perhaps I will read it soon, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rita - Thank you! I don't often read books set in the U.S. during this time period, but a woman rum runner is what made me decide to give it a go. I'm glad I did.

      Delete
  4. I loved the one book I read by Ann Howard Creel; sounds like I need to read her again. Besides, how can anyone pass up a book about rum running? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lark - I'd like to try her other books. Of course, it was the subject matter that really drew me to this one. :-)

      Delete
  5. Great review, Wendy! I've seen this book around but didn't think much of it but your thoughts have drawn me to it. I suppose I'll read it at some point. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Can you believe that was actually a law? So vastly different than what we see today. This sounds like a really interesting story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christy - And a Constitutional Amendment to boot! Crazy.

      Delete
  7. You had me intrigued by the snippet a few days ago, and now I'm totally onboard, pardon the pun. It sounds wonderful and full of historical information. What is it about historical fiction with a by/near the sea setting? So often they're great reads.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Charlie - I wouldn't have minded a bit more historical information, but for the type of novel it was, it was fitting. I am partial to sea side historical fiction too.

      Delete
  8. Ah now I'm curious as to how the whole novel goes! I'm personally invested in a character's happily ever after, especially if I like them, and I have a feeling I'll like Frieda. Thank you for the review Wendy!! As always so nicely written and concise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nina - She has her moments, but I really liked Frieda too. :-)

      Delete
  9. I love the opening and the cover. Both speak to me, and after reading your thoughtful review, I am adding this book to my wish list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Catherine - I hope get a chance to read this one and enjoy it!

      Delete
  10. Sounds like an interesting book! I don't know much about the prohibition either, and the historical aspects would definitely interest me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eustacia - It really is interesting. I enjoyed it!

      Delete
  11. Here's another book for my Goodreads shelves!! This sounds VERY exciting and fascinating! I don't like that the main character is involved in something illegal, but she has very compelling motives for doing so. And she does sound like a great person! Plus, this novel has two ingredients I LOVE -- romance, and the sea! In short, I need to read this one!!

    Thanks for your EXCELLENT review, Wendy!! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maria - Thank you! I did find this one very interesting, especially the historical parts. I hope you like it if you do read it!

      Delete
  12. I'm glad you enjoyed this one. The prohibition era sounds interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jenclair - It is! This book made me want to read more about this time period.

      Delete
  13. I'm trying to think of one book I've read set during Prohibition in the U.S., but I'm not coming up with one. I guess I'll have to add this to my to read list. ;) Excellent review, Wendy!
    ~Litha Nelle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Litha Nelle - I really can't think of many either, other than the passing mention of a speakeasy. I hope you enjoy this if you do read it!

      Delete
  14. Making mistake and learning from them is something all of us can identify with right alongside of Freida.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heather - Yes, I agree. I think we've all been in her shoes in one way or another.

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to visit Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Don't be shy! I would love to hear from you. Due to a recent increase in spam, I will be moderating comments for the foreseeable future. Please be patient with me as it may take a few hours before I am able to approve your comment.