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The Sea Captain's Wife: A True Story of Love, Race, and War in the Nineteenth Century
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The Sea Captain's Wife: A True Story of Love, Race, and War in the Nineteenth Century

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  241 ratings  ·  57 reviews
Award-winning historian Martha Hodes brings us into the extraordinary world of Eunice Connolly. Born white and poor in New England, Eunice moved from countryside to factory city, worked in the mills, then followed her husband to the Deep South. When the Civil War came, Eunice's brothers joined the Union army while her husband fought and died for the Confederacy. Back in Ne ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published February 7th 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 2006)
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I found this book incredibly interesting, but at the same time kind of dry. I thought maybe the author repeated things too much, in order to flesh the book out. However, it was well researched. The book did much to explain how things were in New England during the industrial revolution. You don't tend to think in terms of the first settlers having so much land, and so many kids that as parcels get split up upon death and bequeathed to thier lot of children...that by the time the mid 1800's rolle ...more
I read this book at exactly the moment I needed it! Hodes work provides a useful model for (some) of my own work on emotions history and 19th century lives. Like other reviewers have emphasized, the book follows Eunice Connolly from New England poverty, to the Deep South prior to the Civil War, back to New England as a poor widow, and finally to the Cayman Islands as the wife of a black man. The book explores the complicated relationship between race and class in the US and in the Cayman Islands ...more
I've started this book because I went to a lecture at the Navy Museum, where Martha Hodes spoke on the topic of love and race in the nineteenth century, as exemplified by this exceptional woman, who lived an unconventional life and defied racial categorization...

The rest of it was just as incredibly interesting. What a life story!
Can a book be both interesting and boring? I don't know, but that's how I would describe this one. It reads like 300 pages of a history book about only one person and the people and times affecting her. I didn't get quite through it all but I'm moving on.
Eunice Richardson was born in 1831 and grew up in Manchester, NH. As a young woman she worked in the Amoskeag cotton mills there – the world’s largest such mill. She married William Stone, and in an effort to earn some money (hoping to buy a farm in New England) they followed Eunice’s older sister and her husband to Mobile, Alabama, in the years just before the Civil War. The two men eventually joined the Confederate army, and William was killed during the war. Eunice returned to New Hampshire w ...more
I have to say I was stunned by the pull this book had on me. Originally bought for $1 from the local library bargain bin (for my old Mum), it was returned to me with the words "it's not my cup of tea". Well, after a few early bumps I could hardly put this down.

The true story of an extended family during the US Civil War, historian Martha Hodes has painstakingly tracked down archival material, descendants and letters to shine a light on a seemingly ordinary - yet in other ways utterly remarkable
Given to me on a recent trip South by my niece, this book is a rare story of a Northern woman who moved South, and whose husband enlisted in the Confederate army. She spent her life in search of respite from demeaning, low-paying work, amidst attempts to hold her family together. Eventually she married a man of color from the Cayman Islands, finally finding the life she sought far from home and family.

I was intrigued by the view of northerners over the question of slavery, as well as the hardshi
“The Sea Captain’s Wife “by Martha Hodes is subtitled, “A True Story of Love, Race, and War in the Nineteenth Century,” which is as accurate and succinct as a description of the book can be. The book tells about the life of Eunice Richardson Stone Connolly, a white, working class, New England girl whose first marriage took her to the South just before the outbreak of the Civil War and who was eventually able to climb the social ladder by marrying across racial boundaries in her second marriage. ...more
Sam Poole
Fascinating subject matter but verrrrrry dry. Don't get a real thesis until page 186. The facts are enlightening but the analysis is sorely lacking. There is a treasure trove of identity politic issues at play- race, conceptions of race, sexuality, class and race as inherently intertwined, how setting changes identity etc. But Hodes is reluctant to go past the letters and truly analyze, which is unfortunate because the tedium is over bearing. I was actually counting down the pages til the end. S ...more
This is my favorite kind of book--a true story that has been put together from family letters and papers. Eunice Richardson Connolly had the unique experience of being a born & bred Northerner from Massachusetts who 1) moved to Mobile, Alabama with her husband during the Civil War and watched him march off to fight for the South, 2) returned North smack in the middle of the War (7 months pregnant and traveling through a country in upheaval) and 3) later married a part black sea captain and s ...more
Eunice Richardson Stone Connolly was born white and poor in New England. She lived through the Civil War, having two brothers who fought for the North and a husband and brother-in-law on opposite side of the battlefield. For years Eunice struggled, working as a washer woman to support her two children while her first husband was off to war. It wasn't until she married her second husband, Sea Captain William Smiley Connolly, a man of African/European descent that she found true happiness and a go ...more
Shirley Brown
Yes, this is my kind of book. I love the real life experiences of those who have gone on before and through their lives, even though very simple and not widely acclaimed, have perservered and lived their lives to the best and fullest that they could. Eunice Richardson was such a person, and even though she and her family lost their lives in a hurricane at sea, I think she was finally happy with her life and cirumstances, even though she missed her mother, sisters, and brother, Henry who disclaim ...more
Although this was a required reading for class, I actually liked it. Its not something I would have picked for myself but still. I enjoyed reading about eunice and her family; along with the struggles of life and poverty. i recommend this book to any history lover or anyone interested in a good read.
Betty McMahon
Reads like a novel; thoroughly enjoyed this well-researched book. A true story of an impoverished woman in 19th century New England who bravely took matters into her own hands.
Read it for my History of American Women class, and I really enjoyed it. It starts off a little slow, but it's really readable. It's interesting both on a personal level - Eunice's story as a woman struggling with class, gender, and race in the nineteenth century is so sad and fascinating - but also the book gives a lot of insight into the general culture and social atmosphere of both the North and the South pre-,during, and post-Civil War. Captivating story, tons of historical detail and contex ...more
I'd add at least a half star. The beginning a little slow because she is redundant at times.

But once into the history you find yourself not only involved in Eunice's life, her family's and communities but also getting new insights to the social attitudes,relationships and worries of the mid 1800s.

Rather than fictionalizing what she couldn't document about the family, she described the different attitudes, different customs, etc which Eunice might have follow.

For me her world became real, losing
Historical nonfiction that reads like historical nonfiction. The author wanted to stay true to history and only gave known facts. To fill in the pieces she used a lot of "maybe" and "perhaps" qualifiers, but I think it detracted from the overall story of Eunice Richardson Stone Connolly's unique life.

Honestly, this would have made great historical fiction if the author had given herself the liberty to embellish and fill in the story's blanks creatively. Martha Hodes is a professor of history af
After initially dismissing this book as merely interesting, my opinion deepened to calling it an enthralling book. The author weaves Eunice's letters into historical information and painstaking research into the times of one woman, opening the reader's eyes to realities of pre- and post-Civil War realities of poorer women and the harsh economic realities they entertained as well as the realities of crossing the color line in love and marriage. It was interesting to me to realize how little love ...more
Margaret Sankey
Eunice was a New England working-class woman who married a no-good carpenter who relocated her and their children to Alabama in 1860 and then signed up with the confederacy. Widowed, Eunice went back to New Hampshire poor and worked in the textile mills until being swept off her feet by and handsome, rich, kind sea captain from the Cayman islands....who was black. The author uses a remarkable set of letters in the Duke University archive to make Eunice's life an ideal vehicle for exploring race, ...more
Probably a 3 &1/2 stars
I thought this would be a historical fiction when I bought it, but it is more of a family history mixed with historical background, the author/historian says the history is "assisted by the art of speculation". It was a little difficult to get caught up in, and took me longer to read, but the story based on family letters made it much more interesting than a history text book. The abrupt ending to her life was sad, I wanted to read more! I wish I had a book like this b
Surprisingly readable, this book demonstrates fabulous research (I would love for this author to research my own family). Although the account of a daring interracial marriage in the 1800's was impressive, I found most interesting the hardships endured by this Northern family during the Civil War and the strong class distinctions in the North. Also memorable was the background on a prominent family in the Caymans before commercial development began.
This account of Eunice Richardson Stone Connolly b. 1931 d. 1877 is well-researched. But I found the author was more concerned with proving her research than telling the story which almost overshadowed the subject of the book. So this wasn’t really told in story, but within the explanation of the times. However, the book is interesting as Eunice was an ordinary woman who ended up with a good life.
Claudia Mundell
This was interesting if you like to follow genealogy...the race relations of the Civil War period...or just see how families work. This woman was interested in climbing out of her class and did so but only by paying the price of crossing the color line in the 1800's. The backdrop of textile factories in New England is a little bonus.
May 13, 2008 Alice rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes history
Recommended to Alice by: Pene Gault
Ms. Hodes has taken a tremendous amount of research and woven it into a fascinating story of the marriage of a white woman born and raised in New England to a black, light skinned Caymanian just after the Civil War. The basis of the book is a collection of 500 family letters She has done a remarkable job; I highly recommend the book.
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I had to read this book for a class in college, and it was by far the best book I've ever had assigned to me. I found it fascinating and the style of historical analysis writing is fantastic. I would suggest it to anyone interested in expanding their boundaries and learn a little about the 19th century on the way.
Liz Thompson
Dec 14, 2007 Liz Thompson rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
The story of Eunice Richardson Stone Connolly, a real New England woman caught up in the Civil War, abandoned by her father and husband, eventully marries a Caymanian sea captain and lives in the Grand Caymans. Her life is chronicled thru real letters recently discovered by descendents. Differently fascinating.
This is why books are such great gifts. Sometimes a gem is revealed to you that otherwise would have remained undiscovered.
A fascinating account of 19th Century America. The life of an impoverished white woman, who crossed tremendous borders. I am humbled by the amount of work that the writing of this book entailed.
Martha Hodes researched a set of letters written by Eunice Richardson in the mid to late 1800s. The historical context couches the letters in the sociological impact of the times. Eunice was poor and struggled for most of her life. The history was interesting. I learned things I did not know.
I so enjoyed this book. I'm not a big nonfiction reader (and esp. not historical nonfiction), but this book is written so thoroughly and entertainingly that it reads like fiction even though it's not. Anyone who is interested in the American 19th century would find it an great read.
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