Title: The Outer Banks House
Author: Diann Ducharme
Pages: 291 (I have an ARC, so page numbers in the finished book may be different)
Challenges: Read 'n' Review Challenge
First Sentence: "I was the first passenger off the steamboat."
Summary (From back of book):
When my daddy decided we should have a cottage on the ocean side of the Outer Banks, he hired some of our former slaves to build it. While overseeing part of the construction, Daddy hired a local, a "Banker" as they call themselves, to show him the best places to hunt and fish. This Banker, Benjamin Whimble, really impressed Daddy; so much so that Daddy volunteered my teaching services, telling him that I'd be more than happy to teach him how to read and write. As you can imagine, a seventeen-year-old lady like myself was none too thrilled at the prospect of endless summer days of sitting near such a dirty man -- a man who doesn't even own a single pair of shoes.
But there's something about his eyes -- blue like the ocean -- shining out from his sun-browned skin. And then there's the way he listens as I read him Robinson Crusoe; and how he questions many of my core beliefs, challenges me to think differently than my parents.
And come to think of it, pasty Hector Newman, with his top hat and gloves, doesn't seem like such a perfect match for me anymore, even though my parents would likely disown me if I refused his imminent proposal.
But there's something dangerous going on, something that's had Ben on edge lately, something involving my daddy, and I'm not sure if what will transpire will drive me to make a choice between a life on the Outer Banks with Ben or the eager arms of Hector back in Edenton.
My Two Cents:
At first, I wasn't so sure about this book. I think the tone of the summary on the back of the book kind of put me off, making me think that Abigail was a goody-two-shoes Scarlett O'Hara. But, as I read farther into the book, I grew to like it more and more.
It's obvious that Ducharme knows her setting intimately, even if she's seen it in another time. The descriptions of the ocean and landmarks of the Outer Banks area are rich with detail and make the reader feel the ocean breeze on his or her face. I often longed to jump into the water just as Abigail did!
Abigail makes a solid main character. She's quietly rebelling against the conventions of her social milieu even before we meet her by reading every book she can get her hands on. When she meets Benjamin, though, her rebellion kicks up a notch and takes a much more potentially dangerous turn. She questions the life in which she's been brought up and doesn't silently accept the path her parents have chosen for her.
I wish we could have seen a little more from the perspective of Abigail's father. We hardly ever saw him (He worked back at home during the week and visited the family on the weekends), and usually only heard about his nefarious dealings from other characters. I didn't get the sense of impending danger and doom that Ducharme wanted, especially since Benjamin seemed so afraid of Abigail's father, mostly because I never really saw what he was like until one major event fairly late in the book. I think the book would have been a little stronger had we seen more of Abigail's father and his plans.
This was a great book for those interested in post-Civil War literature and life in the South following the freeing of the slaves.