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Engrossing portrayal of early nineteenth century life in rural Newfoundland, – where fishing provides not only livelihood, income and sustenance, but also the salt cod used as barter to trade for all essentials not grown or produced on the island – goods delivered by merchant ships cross-crossing the Atlantic in weather both fair and foul, fueling the life-blood of the economy as well as feeding the isolated community much needed news and broader social intercourse.

The book follows the true-life story of one young man, Ananias (Annie) Case, based in Bridport, England, who, unable to avoid a terrible conflict, finds himself on the wrong side of the law. On the run, boarding a ship setting sail for Newfoundland, – Annie’s plan is nothing more than grasping a vague promise of a new life and a fresh start in a world with only tenuous links to his own.

“Like the ancient mariner, you end up paying for your sins. Problem is that you don’t always know when or how you’ve sinned. That’s the bewildering part. And when all is said and done, finding joy again can be elusive.”

Graced with education, but burdened by the parameters of his less than enviable social class, Annie must find himself a place and a new life In a culture rife with physical hardship, religious asceticism, poverty and the brutal vagaries of winter storms, blinding fog, and rampant illness.

None of which is as difficult for Annie to master as his overarching, always present, deep to his core, guilt and shame, – a constant reminder of the secret he holds; his forced alienation from his loved ones; his life so profoundly altered.

“Grief is like a keg full of regrets and recollections with only so much room. So you gotta seal her up tight. Good on lonely nights – but she’ll run dry so you can’t binge on it. Won’t do nobody any good.”

Rich with immersive detail and impeccably researched, this book is a marvel. Based on the life of his great-great-great-grandfather, and undoubtedly a labor of love for the author, I read this book with no labor and much love for this bright, broken and best-intentioned young man. Without giving the plot away (no spoilers here), I found Annie and his journey equal parts tragic and inspiring, losing myself entirely to the historical context, of which I knew very little.

A great big thank you to the author and the publishers for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.

@nevermorepress #ananais #newfoundland #Instabook #amreading #historicalbook


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