Daughters of Nantucket is a compelling story of three strong women and one devastating fire.
Daughters of Nantucket by Julie Gerstenblatt
Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Nantucket 1846
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My Summary of Daughter of Nantucket:
Welcome to my stop on the Harlequin Trade Publishing Winter 2023 Historical Fiction Blog Tour. Thanks #NetGalley @HTPBooks (Mira) for a complimentary e ARC of #DaughtersOfNantucket upon my request. All opinions are my own.
Three courageous women battle to save everything in the historic Nantucket Fire of 1846. Eliza faces financial struggles as she maintains the household while her whaling captain husband is away for long stretches of time. Meg is a pregnant and free Black woman who fights for the right to move her business to the heart of downtown. Maria is an astronomer and runs Nantucket’s Atheneum by day and studies stars by night. The fire brings them together in unique ways as they rely on each other, save what they can, and think about rebuilding.
Sense of Place
I appreciate being treated to a strong sense of place through vivid details and descriptions. It immersed me completely in the story from page one. I can envision walking the streets in that small community, attending a community meeting, running from the fire, trying in desperation to save valuables, and watching in horror and disbelief as Main Street burns.
Daughters of Nantucket is told alternately from three perspectives, and we grow to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of three very different women and the choices available to them in 1846. The book’s first half is devoted to character development, and we arrive at the page-turning action later. All three characters are meticulously drawn, fascinating, and likable…well, eventually likable! Eliza is not likable at first but she probably represents the time period. Eliza is the first character to whom we are introduced, so her rough edges and perspectives might discourage you, but trust me, all three colorful characters grow and develop throughout the story.
Because Maria Mitchell is a real-life person (the first female astronomer and first female professor of Astronomy at Vasser), I Googled her before I read the story. The author portrays her as gay which might be accurate, but I didn’t come across that in my Google reading. The author doesn’t mention it in her notes, so it left a lingering question in my mind during and after my reading experience.
I enjoyed the strong themes of women supporting women, community spirit, compassion, (eventual) friendship, and rebuilding after a disaster.
Recommending Daughters of Nantucket
I’m recommending this unique and riveting story for fans of historical fiction, for readers who love Nantucket, and those who love stories of strong, independent women.
While reading, I remembered reading a Middle-Grade book about the childhoods of three female scientists (one was Maria Mitchell), Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins (scroll down the page for the review).
Content Consideration: destruction due to fire, personal loss
My Rating: 4 Stars
Meet the Author of Daughters of Nantucket, Julie Gerstenblatt
Is this new release on your TBR or have you read it?
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