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The Sea Captain's Wife

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,716 ratings  ·  265 reviews
Growing up on the Bay of Fundy, Azuba Galloway dreams of going to sea. She watches magnificent ships slowly making their way into Whelan’s Cove, the sense of exoticism bursting from their holds along with foreign goods.
As a young woman, Azuba marries a seasoned merchant sea captain, Nathaniel Bradstock. Unwilling to have him away at sea for most of their married life, and
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 12th 2010 by Knopf Canada (first published January 1st 2010)
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3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,716 ratings  ·  265 reviews

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May 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-borrowed
This book takes readers back to the "Golden Age" of sail in the British colony of New Brunswick Canada. Beth Powning shines a light on the little mentionec women who stood by their husbands side as they sailed the seas. Powning doesn't romance this journey either-death,sickness, pirates, and starvation are a part of the story too. A book that I just couldn't stop reading!
Apr 14, 2013 rated it liked it
This was the first really slow read I've had in a long time. I don't mean it was slow because there was nothing happening in the book or slow to pick up because I didn't like it. It was slow because the words were so poetic and vivid, earnestly transporting me to a place I could see so clearly in my mind. Beautiful writing indeed.

It was an interesting take on the sea-faring husband, adventure-seeking wife combo that seems to be popular. The sharp contrast between Nathaniel's characters as family
Jun 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
This book...... PUT ME IN SUCH A SLUMP!

I WAS SO DISAPPOINTED BY THIS BOOK. I thought I would love it but noooooooooooooooooooo

First of all, the author kept telling what happened. You never experienced anything so when "major events" occurred, you're just like, "oh that was a crucial moment? Their lives were in danger? oh"
This book takes place on a boat. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEA. I didn't feel immersed in the world at all. Powning doesn't bother teaching the reader nautical terms. Doesn't bother
Adele Jones
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I first started this novel, I wondered if I was about to be dropped into an idealistic romance on the oceans. So wrong! This book is of much sterner stuff than that.

The novel is written through the eyes of Azuba, a young wife to sea captain, Nathaniel Bradstock. After the loss of their second child through a late miscarriage while Nathaniel is at sea, Azuba's desire to join her husband on the oceans seems perfectly reasonable - and his refusal, prideful, stubborn and harsh. It takes a matte
Jun 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
In The Sea Captain's Wife, Azuba desperately wants to join her husband Nathaniel on his ship. However, he has other ideas and leaves her at home while he goes on a lengthy voyage. Upon his return, he learns of an unfortunate incident and realizes that he has little choice but to take Azuba with him on his next trip. Azuba has no idea what's in store for her. Rough waters, horrific storms, pirates, mutiny, starvation; all are featured in this harrowing tale of life on the high seas.

I loved this
This book had some interesting and engaging themes. I had not read about wives of Sea Captain's who traveled with their husbands before and all the excitement, hardship and peril that went with it. Still I didn't really "see" or get a "feel" for the ship and the lifestyle and couldn't help comparing it to the much Superior (in my opinion) historical novels of Diana Gabaldon (The outlander series).
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
I really enjoyed the adventure of this book. A life on a ship on the ocean sounds terrifying to me. I didn’t love any of the characters, though they were realistic. However I loved the story. It wasn’t happy, it was full of trauma and bad choices but I loved the book for the way it sucked me Into what was happening to the characters. The writing is descriptive and paints a perfect picture. I feel the author was trying to create a realistic life of a sea captain, his crew, his family and what it ...more
Kathleen Valentine
“Apples, mermaids, pansies, seashells...” are woven into the rug that Azuba's Grammy makes for her to take on her first voyage aboard her husband's ship Traveller. She wants Azuba to remember her home overlooking the Bay of Fundy. Growing up in 1860s New Brunswick, Azuba, daughter of a shipwright, dreams of adventure and then one day it finds her – or does it? At a dance Azuba falls in love with tall, rugged, blue-eyed Nathaniel, captain of the sea-going vessel Traveller. When they marry Azuba b ...more
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
AH! I just finished this book and I still feel a little jumpy! Powning was a bit long winded and repetitive in parts, but on the whole, I enjoyed the book. It was pretty exciting. Not the same old "lady at sea" tale I've read before. Having a nursing infant myself at the moment, the ending had me that much more tense. I thought the ending was wrapping far differently, so I was surprised.

Good read!
May 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 13, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There were some facets of The Sea Captain's Wife that I did truly enjoy. Powning did an excellent job at setting the novel in 1800's Canada. She clearly has done extensive research as to what life at that time would be like. From fashion, professions, economic classes, and culture to showing what everyday life might be like, down to details like daguerreotypy, she really hit the nail on the head. Furthermore, as the protagonist Azuba sailed around the world, Powning excellently showed the differ ...more
Holly (The Grimdragon)
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I don't need you men to do my thinking for me.

Azuba loves Whelan's Cove but yearns for adventure. She has always been in love with the sea & has always wanted to travel. To see the world. This is her story about leaving the comfort & beauty of her home on the Bay of Fundy; about leaving behind her family & friends for an adventure -- for love.

Her loneliness while Nathaniel was away is heart-wrenching. She suffers personal tragedy while her husband is at sea, so when Simon (Reverend W
Sherri Keller
Jun 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-star
There are a few mild spoilers in the following review, but nothing that will ruin the story.

The Sea Captain's Wife follows Azuba, a young woman who grew up on the Bay of Fundy in the mid 1800s. We first meet her as an adventurous girl who wants to marry a sea captain and travel the world with her husband at her side. She rails against the traditional expectations of the sea captain's wife: to be a good submissive mother, grow flowers, and spend her husband's money on carriages and dresses.

The ma
Kathleen Valentine
May 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"Apples, mermaids, pansies, seashells..." ...are woven into the rug that Azuba's Grammy makes for her to take on her first voyage aboard her husband's ship Traveller. She wants Azuba to remember her home overlooking the Bay of Fundy. Growing up in 1860s New Brunswick, Azuba, daughter of a shipwright, dreams of adventure and then one day it finds her - or does it? At a dance Azuba falls in love with tall, rugged, blue-eyed Nathaniel, captain of the sea-going vessel Traveller. When they marry Azub ...more
Steven Langdon
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: super
Beth Powning wrote the excellent "Hatbox Letters" several years ago, a novel set in contemporary Atlantic Canada. This book, by contrast, is a historical novel from the 1860's, but I found it just as multi-layered and emotionally complex -- with much to say that is relevant to us in the twenty-first century. Powning writes with well-researched authority about the historical period in which this book is set -- discussing the intracacies of sailing vessels, of voyages around Cape Horn, or of the c ...more
Nov 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommend, bookclub
I enjoyed this book more than I was expecting. At first, it really felt like an ordinary historical romance between a young woman and a strong burly sea captain. It is actually much more than that. The book clearly paints life in the 1860s and describes the fascinating and perilous life in the Age of Sail. The book is well-researched and most of the time information is well-woven into the descriptions and plot; occasionally though the author simply lists items such as food eaten or clothes worn ...more
Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cheryl, Deborah, Lisa, Kezia
Azuba feels a kind of destiny where the sea is concerned, to the point where, alone in her big house overlooking the ocean while her sea captain husband is away, she is deeply lonely and unhappy. A relatively innocent friendship with the local minister, discovered by her husband when he arrives home, drives a wedge into her happy marriage, and Nathaniel decides to take Azuba and their little girl with him to sea, despite his deep fears for their safety. This novel is infused with strong emotions ...more
Oct 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
A really good read by Canadian author Beth Powning. This is the reasonably harrowing tale of a girl who grows up in New Brunswick in the 1860s, the daughter of a ship-builder and the wife of a ship's captain. She has always yearned to go to sea herself but her husband refuses to take her even though it was a reasonably common practice at the time for captain's wives, and even children, to accompany them. This captain's wife, however, finally gets the opportunity when one tiny indiscretion disgra ...more
Mar 28, 2015 rated it liked it
I went back and forth on 3 or 4 stars for this book.

The good:
The writing is beautiful.
The imagery is beautiful.
The author was able to make ME feel seasick along with the character.
Azuba is a good powerful female character, and her daughter, Carrie, is very very well written.
The handling of Azuba's love for Nathaniel while romanticizing another man in her mind is EXACTLY IT. Perfect. Nailed it.

The eh:
Nathaniel as a "complicated wounded man" makes him pretty one-note.
Azuba "realizes" things all th
Dec 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lorraine by: LT Early Reviewers
I really enjoyed this novel. Azuba yearns to be at sea with her husband, a captain, in the 19th century, and she gets her wish. The complications and hardships of the sea life await her, but also the difficulty in navigating her relationship with her husband.

Powning's writing style is strong; descriptions are detailed and poetic. Occassionally the prose jumps ahead and I thought I'd missed something, but it's really just to move the plot along and I appreciated the absence of trivial details and
Azuba, a strong and spirited woman, falls in love with a rugged sea captain (Nathaniel). After they marry, she believes that she will accompany him on his travels, but he changes his mind and leaves her behind to the safety - and loneliness - of land. Personal scandal changes everything and an angry Nathaniel is forced to bring his family onto his ship. Azuba, who once idealized life at sea, learns quickly how difficult and lonely it can be, while she struggles to understand and love her husband ...more
Oct 01, 2013 rated it liked it
I felt this book was definitely worth reading. It was written well, with some beautiful language. The part I liked the most was Azuba’s personal journey to accept her lot in life. If you live the life that you exactly dreamed of then you probably can’t relate to the personal conflict Azuba faces. However, if your life has taken unexpected turns or what you thought you wanted isn’t what you expected it to be – you will enjoy the quandaries that this strong protagonist faces.
The ending is a littl
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian
Some could consider the novel a bit predictable or formulaic in some ways, or a bit heavy on the number of mishaps, misfortunes and coincidences that occur. But, it was still a page-turner for me. Thematically, the novel is partially about the complexities of relationships – between husband and wife, extended family members, friends, and society – and about the conflict between work and family. The main character, Azuba, yearns for adventure, and we get to explore her emotions and decisions as s ...more
May 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Sea Captain's Wife is a wonderful novel which sucked me in with its' poetic writing from page one. Powning's ability to write a descriptive scene where the reader feels they are there is fabulous. I loved the main character and could associate with her struggles as a woman in a very repressed time for women, struggling for adventure, yet remaining "accepting" to her "status" in life as a married woman.
Terri Van Gulik
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read The Hatbox Letters by the same author a couple of years ago. She is a wonderful writer. I will read everything she writes. The Sea Captains Wife takes place in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, and then on a sailing ship all around the world. What a hard life. Either waiting and hoping your husband returns after years at sea, or accompanying him and facing the numerous perils on board. Storms, starvation, mutinies and pirates. An amazing story.
Jan 01, 2017 added it
Shelves: 2017, 2018
A swashbuckling adventure of a read! So descriptive...I was on that sailing ship!! Wonderful story wonderful writing.
p. 254
"Her permanent state of displeasure suggested that even within herself she was but temporarily lodged."

June 1,2018
Loved it as much the second time through! Can’t wait for my Bay of Fundy adventure to see the ship building history where much of Azuba’s life took place.
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Oh, how I loved this book. The words themselves were so lovely, but the detail was amazing. As I read about sea voyages and winters on the coast, I could feel the cold, the heat, the fear. I was completely captivated by life at sea, and by life in the 1860s. The characters were so full, I felt like I knew them. This is one I'll definitely re-read.
Susan Doull
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting to see how captains were treated like royality in that time. Amazing.
An interesting story about how when women have aspirations and speak their minds and leave the home everything goes to shit.

Ok, that is a bit hyperbolic.

In truth, I really enjoyed this novel for the most part. It’s clear there was an immense amount of research done on late 19th century society, shipping, and ships in general. The story moves at a good pace (at least until the last 1/4 of it when it starts to drag) and the writing is clear, concise and explanatory without being textbook. Yet, w
Nancy Kroneberger
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed this book. At first it seemed awfully slow and lacking in much of a plot, but as I got into it, I became more and more hooked. I was fascinated by the evolution of her marriage--how it changed and grew from one stage to another. I was also blown away by how her desires changed: how she once longed to sail on voyages with her husband, having an ideal idea of what that would be like in her head, but seeing--after being very sea-sick, experiencing horri ...more
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Beth Powning was born in Hampton, Connecticut. She attended E.O. Smith High School, and Sarah Lawrence College, where she majored in creative writing. Powning moved to New Brunswick, Canada in 1970.

Powning's work has been widely published in books, anthologies, and magazines. She is known for her lyrical, powerful writing and the profound emotional honesty of her work.

Her latest novel, "A Measure