“Book Review: Out Front the Following Sea”
Reviewed by Genevieve Hartman
A sweeping tale of intrigue, romance, and feminist power amidst the tumult of colonial North America
Leah Angstman’s debut novel depicts life in colonial America, set in the time of King William’s War and the clash of French and Native forces against the British-American colonies. Swift-moving and riveting, Out Front the Following Sea both brings a lesser-told history to light, and entrances readers with the exploits of its headstrong, unpredictable heroine.
Ruth Miner is feisty and independent long before it is acceptable for a woman to be so—which results in her being branded a witch and completely rejected by the small town that she lives in. Only Owen, her childhood friend, and a half-French sailor, knows the awful truth behind Ruth’s branding. As the harsh winter and the angry townspeople threaten Ruth’s life, she escapes aboard Owen’s ship Primrose, hoping to make a new life for herself in the town of Stonington. There, she befriends a Pequot warrior named Askook, and finds herself married to a tyrannical British general, all the while fighting for the chance to love Owen and for the French and Native cause.
Out Front the Following Sea is gritty and action filled. From midnight rides, to harrowing moments aboard the Primrose, to skirmishes, to fires, to condemnation at town trials, Ruth faces uncountable struggles, still managing to remain tender in the face of hardship. Having already lost social standing by being branded a witch, Ruth is unconcerned with the Puritanical Christian society around her.
Instead, she stands up for what she believes in: her love for Owen, and her sympathy for the Pequot nation, largely due to her friendship with Askook. Both stances are decidedly countercultural, but Ruth is fiercely loyal, willing to go to any lengths to protect the people she cares about. It is this verve that draws readers into Ruth’s story, and keeps them engaged as Ruth encounters each new challenge.
That said, Ruth seems an unlikely product of the British colonies in the late 1600s. The most apt description for her is feminist, a movement that is still a long way on the horizon. Despite her hasty decisions and fiery outbursts, Ruth’s understanding of the world is remarkably well-reasoned and modern. She perceives the problem of colonialism perhaps too well, fighting for the Pequot to regain their land while everyone else around her instantly labels them “savages.” But while not necessarily historically accurate, Ruth’s unapologetic activism is admirable and strikes a resonant chord in today’s social atmosphere—and it makes for a wonderfully memorable character.
Historical fiction, romance, and action-lovers alike will find something to enjoy in Out Front the Following Sea. Keeping readers on their toes with ever-changing scenery and vibrant characters, Leah Angstman has recreated British Colonial America with a modern twist. Ruth Miner is a woman with a mission, and her story will beguile and compel readers, leaving them waiting for Angstman’s next book.
Publisher: Regal House Publishing
Genre: Historical / Literary
Print Length: 334 pages
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