A Book Review: Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman (2010).
Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. The opinions expressed below are my own. I was under no obligation to give the book a positive review.
Only two chapters in, I felt the book had a misleading title. Pirate Queen conjured up a swashbuckling adventure, not a Southern family drama. By the end of the story, however, I gained a better understanding of the title when Saphora, the main character, becomes a bit of a "pirate queen." As the book follows Saphora, it mimics her own life: a slow beginning, an uncertain middle (with flashes of brilliance) and finally comes into its own in the final chapters, giving the reader a sweeter rather than bitter aftertaste. Solomon's wisdom, "the end of the matter is better than the beginning" aptly applies to the book.
Forty-something Saphora Warren rides high on the social strata being married to a popular plastic surgeon. He's especially popular among the ladies, as Saphora uncovers numerous cases of infidelity on her husband's part throughout the tale. After a photo shoot with Southern Living, Saphora packs her bags ready to go stay at their second home on the Outer Banks, far away from Bender, her husband. There's something missing in her life and it's not just her husband's affection. Right as Saphora is leaving, Bender shows up with news. He has cancer and wants her to take him to their place on the Outer Banks.
The rest of the story is a coming of age saga for Saphora and many of the supporting characters, including her grown daughter, Gwennie, (a high power attorney who doesn't have time for love) and a mysterious young neighbor boy, Tobias, who brings joy into the life of each person he encounters. I do not usually enjoy Southern fiction, but the characters are realistic and well-drawn, and I did appreciate some of the unexpected elements the author, Patricia Hickman, wove into the story. Apart from the genre and it's rather slow beginning, Pirate Queen does showcase Hickman's development as a writer. Nearly fifteen years ago, I enjoyed reading Hickman's Australian series. Her writing in Pirate Queen is more nuanced, poetic and at times very poignant. I hope she takes her matured voice and applies it to settings outside of the South for those of us who liked her earlier adventure works.
I give Pirate Queen 3 stars out of 5. Recomended for fans of coastal or Southern fiction, Nicholas Sparks, and family dramas.