Imagine your husband being gone for 2 or 3 years, out of touch but for the very occasional letter. That was what young Faith faced after she and Seth Nickerson met and fell in love. This historical novel follows the awakening and growing love between a young, landlubber schoolteacher and a dashing sea captain. It is a colorful and inviting story of the exciting, dangerous, and tedious life at sea and the lonely, but amiable life on land during the 1840s and 1850s.
Faith Basset had left the inland farm of her family to teach school in the seacoast town of Cotuit. Although it was only 5 miles from her Cape Cod home, she had never seen the sea. She fell instantly in love with the sound and power of the water, and soon she fell in love with dashing Cap't Nickerson as well. Clara Nickerson Boden tells their story with the clarity and detail of her grandmother's prose and her own talent for telling us about the place and people she loved.
At that time, there was a captain in every Cotuit family and most likely a mate or able-bodied seaman as well. Whaling was big business, and the title Cap'n was far more common than that of Mister. These far-traveled Cotuit sailors often circled the globe, going out to the Bering Sea whaling grounds by way of the Cape of Good Hope at the tip of Africa and returning home by Cape Horn at the tip of South America. It was a time when the names Cape Horn and Hong Kong were more frequently heard in Cotuit conversation than Boston or New York.
The wives of the whalers were not idle while their men were at sea. They worshipped together and spent time looking out for one another. Faith told her friends that she yearned to sail the vast oceans, and to visit the exotic lands she has heard of from her husband. She dreams of "giving a hymnbook to a heathen and a cookbook to a cannibal."
The Cut of Her Jib, set in Cotuit, is where Clara Nickerson Boden was born. She spent 13 years working on this book after she had been spurred on by the discovery of her grandmother's long hidden diary. It reminded her of all the stories she'd heard on her daily visits to her grandparent's house, the one that Cap't Nickerson built for his wife. She incorporated these stories within the pages of The Cut of Her Jib, which was beautifully illustrated by the well known marine artisits, Gordon Grant and Walker Cain. Like Faith, clara yearned to visit the exotic lands that her forebears had frequented on those long whaling voyages. It was with the proceeds from the first edition of this story, that allowed her to board a tramp steamer at age 72 and set out for Lahaina, Hawaii, where the whaling ships of New England frequently stopped.