Cover Image: Out Front the Following Sea

Out Front the Following Sea

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Member Reviews

***update*** it’s now a couple of weeks since I finished reading this book and I’m still thinking about it.  This happens to me when I read an extraordinary book.  I’ve reread my review and feel I was unfair as to the number of stars given.  Therefore ii am increasing it to 5 stars. 

I love a detailed and accurate historical novel that has strong believable characters with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. Out Front the Following Sea has this and more! 
The novel is set in 17th century New England. It is a time of puritanical religious sects, strict moral codes, distrust and fear. Fear walks daily with the town’s people; The fear of a wrathful God and a dangerous devil, fear of Indian or French attacks. People are superstitious. To be condemned as a witch often requires nothing more then an accusation. Any woman who is alone, independent or outspoken is in real danger of being accused. 
The novel centers around Ruth Miner a 16 year old young woman who is a pariah in her hometown. She stands accused of murder after a fire she accepted responsibility for kills both her parents. At the same time in an unrelated incident several sheep take ill and die. This is all that is needed for her to be accused of witchcraft. Before what promises to be be a brutal winter Ruth begs her only friend, First Mate Owen Townsend of The Primrose ship to take her and her gran away. He refuses feeling he’s not ready yet.. Ruth suffers much hardship alone that winter as Her grandmother dies and the town’s people turn a deaf ear to her pleas for help. Ruth’s response is to publicly curse the town. Ruth must now flee at first thaw or face their wrath. Ruth accomplishes this by purchasing a freight ticket on the Primrose and stowing away. The ship lands at Stonington,Ct where Ruth disembarks to begin her new life. Will she be able to outrun her past and build a life while staying out of trouble and not creating enemies? Will the war between the French and British spill into her new town? Will she and Owen ever figure out their feelings for each other and is there any future for them? These questions and many more remain to be seen.
This novel is nicely written. Tension builds slowly from the very first page then gathers speed and doesn’t let up! Characters are well drawn fully formed and for the most part act according to the time period. From what I can gather the author is a historian and it shows. Little details are not overlooked and add much depth and authenticity to the story.
I have not rated this book 5 stars for a few reasons. First the use of many French and Pequot words necessitate looking up in the provided glossary. This takes away from the rhythm and flow of the work. The same is true for the frequent use of archaic and seldom used modern words. My second issue is the occasional use of modern sayings. For example when Ruth makes a poor joke where upon no one laughs she sarcastically responds “it was a joke”. Really a 16 y/o girl would use a modern saying and sarcasm In puritanical New England? These really are minor issues and should not stop one from reading the booK!
Recommended for those who love detailed historical novels with great story lines.

I received an ARC of this book from Regal House Publishing and net galley. This fact in no way influenced my review.
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This is a book where so much happens.  It is chock full of adventure, horrible villains, and life or death dilemmas.  I think I would have liked it more had that been all I was expecting when I started it,  I expected more of a voyage of discovery for Ruth but while she is very strong and opinionated, often to her detriment, she never seems to change or reflect on the new places and experiences she encounters on her journey. She is never given much depth outside of her desire to survive. For me, the lack of depth carried over into the supporting characters and the romance,  One thing I can say that I unabashedly love is the cover.  I would hang a print of the illustration on my wall.
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Interesting historical fiction taking place in a time period not usually written about. At the end of the book,the author details her research and I appreciate that the story is historically accurate.
Ruth, the protagonist and narrator is a very strong young woman living in a time in which women have no rights. She has been accused of being a witch and the village that she is originally from drives her out, burns her home and kills her horse right after her beloved grandmother dies. Ruth barely escapes to obtain passage on a ship in which Owen is first mate and stepson of the captain. Ruth and Owen’s backgrounds are very murky through most of the story and I felt like adequate information was seriously lacking such as why was Ruth branded as a witch and how and why did Owen murder her parents?
While on the ship (or maybe before, too much background missing), Ruth and Owen fall in love which seems weird to me as the reader since they allude to serious transgressions between them in the past. 
Owen leaves Ruth in another village after finding an elderly couple to take her in. I will say that the story becomes more interesting at this point with Ruth making friends with a Pequot Native American man who lurks in the forest and with her being forced to integrate with the villagers (no spoilers) while war between the English and the French is brewing. Owen returns too late and both he and Ruth have to run for their lives, not once but twice.
The story is difficult to follow at times due to dialogue in French, Old English and Pequot with very little translation which is annoying. Most of the tale is far-fetched (I know it’s fiction) and just too unbelievable. The deadly situations that the characters escape from just get more and more ridiculously impossible. The ending seemed abrupt with little explanation about how the characters ended up where they were and no explanation about what happened to Val, the likable highwayman who saved Ruth more than once.
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Beautifully written and meticulously researched, this is as much a journey as a book. Readers are invited to follow the struggles, loves, and adventures of a penniless young woman and an unlucky sailor trying to build a life in a land made dangerous by prejudice, religion, and war. Seeped in detail, this immersive read alternately fascinates and thrills while returning us to a time in America's history not often explored. The fully realized characters touch the reader deeply, and a somewhat unsatisfying ending is more than compensated for by the many moments of verisimilitude, generous humour, hand-drawn maps and sketches of ships, and perfectly gorgeous prose.
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This is an amazingly researched book that immerses the reader in the plot and setting.  Ms Angstman's depiction of this period of history is both incredibly compelling and makes me very grateful to live in the 21st century.  The characters stuck with me long after I finished reading and I really hope to hear more from this author soon!
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Thanks to Netgalley and Regal House Publishing for the eARC. This, a first novel for Leah Angstrom, is brilliant. Ruth Miner is an uppity woman in 17th century North America during King Williams War. Smart, independent and just a tad bit cocky for the time, she makes few friends in a mostly puritanical society. I'm not going to discuss plot or characters or retell anything that isn't already in the book's description.

This is an adventure story, a romance, and a social commentary of the time all rolled into one and at the hands of this adept writer it doesn't fall into any of the pitfalls that so many others in this genre can get caught up in.  The writing is exquisite, the study and thoughtfulness that goes into the Pequot language and their world is so respectful and also reminiscent of Eliot Pattinson's Bone Rattler series. The characters are well drawn and knowable. 

There is a bleakness in this story that permeates throughout, but it was a bleak period. Life was hard, very hard. Science was shameful, religion and superstition ruled, war and fear were daily issues, women and others were chattel. This is not the North America of history where playful, cheery Pilgrims sir and have a nosh with the natives and Leah Angstrom she's a very good job with this aspect.

This is a long yet rollicking read and if I have one hope it's that I have the distinct feeling that I've been set up for a new series.
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Even in the 1600s, the power of suggestion and the redemptive capability of friendship and personal loyalty were evident, as this Bildungsroman illustrates. Beautiful prose, spot-on dialogue, and a cast of supporting characters so varied and lively you’ll want to invite them all to your next dinner party are hallmarks of every chapter. Recommended!
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Out Front the Following Sea follows Ruth Miner, a curious young woman, as she struggles to survive in the New England of 1689. Ruth's story is heartbreaking, as she deals with being accused of her parents' murder and witchcraft in a town that does not want to see her survive at all and she has to find her way in a terribly lonely world. 

I did not enjoy reading most of this book. The reason I'm giving it two stars instead of one is that it did get better in the last few chapters, and that I enjoyed the ending. The story itself was good and it seemed like a great concept (especially knowing the research that went into this book), but the execution did not deliver for me. 

The characters were developed weirdly if at all, strong feelings kept constantly appearing out of nowhere (I'm pretty sure the protagonist has deep attachment issues), and it felt like the plot just happened to them, rather than characters having any agency. Ruth seemed like an interesting character at first, and she was, but it felt like she made no progress during the story, as she herself says "the haste from which she could never seem to learn, never seem to untangle from her nature". The only development I would say we see from her is learning to be more hopeful, which is quite something for a 17th century woman, but I don't think it's enough for a protagonist. The rest of the characters, mainly Askook and Owen, are intriguing, but most don't get enough story time for us to really get to understand them, and there are so many terrible people along the book that it was sometimes disheartening. 

As I said before, I did think the story was good. The events were nicely interconnected and there weren't any plot holes or particularly improbable parts. However, the writing style kept pulling me out of it. The mix between modern and "ancient" speech and the written portrayal of (often inintelligible) accents were incredibly distracting, and I couldn't figure out what the tone of the story was supposed to be. In the middle of serious scenes the main character would go and say something that tried to be funny but did not land, while other times actions that I believe were supposed to be taken seriously felt like bad jokes. (spoiler) Ruth literally asks if she can be friends with someone she met two sentences ago and who has shown absolutely no indication of wanting to be friends, just because they are both women. Maybe it's supposed to say something about her naivety, but I also don't think we're supposed to read this resourceful young woman as naive.(end spoiler)

All in all, I wouldn't recommed this book to just anyone. If you're a fan of historically accurate novels set during real, important events then I think you'd enjoy this story, as despite the flaws mentioned the historical aspects are well done. I personally did enjoy learning more about this time period, the disputes, political and religious, and the way people got by, but it didn't really make it worth the effort of getting through the book. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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What interested me to this story was the time period of 17th century America and a strong female character. However, due to the style of writing I struggled to connect with the storyline and its heroine from the very beginning. The story is driven by plot, which is overwhelming in its scope. I appreciate stories rich in historical background, but this ambitious story seems to be out of balance with engagement. At some points, there is also a lot of dialogue and some of it is not progressing the story forward.

Keep in mind, I like character-driven stories with less rather than more dialogue, and dialogue that serves the purpose and moves the story forward. If you like plot-driven stories, then I recommend looking at other reviews.
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A lengthy read that can drag at times but overall a mesmerising tale. I’m a huge fan of history and like reading historical fiction, especially when there’s aspects of witchcraft accusations thrown in too. Also cover is stunning. Highly enjoyed
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Out Front the Following Sea, Leah Angstman

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction 

I was so keen to read this, historical, witchcraft, strong female lead and wasn't what I expected. 
I need ( with very few exceptions) to like/hate the main characters in order to care what happens to them. In this case I needed to like Owen and Ruth but I wasn't keen on either of them. 
When I began I felt like I was partway into a book, there was backstory I wanted to know such as what did actually happen to Ruth's parents, how did the fire start etc. 
I did really like the day to day descriptions of life, they brought to story to life and  made me feel very much in the period, and I love that about historical reads. 

I didn't like that Ruth and Owen seemed to have a life full of coincidences, just when he's needed Owen turns up, most of the time, one glaring exception of course. Ruth escapes by the skin of her teeth again and again, lands in a strange place with nothing but gets taken in by a kindly lady....and that seems to get echoed through the story. Several times when either or both need something or someone at the last moment its just there. I know it'd be a short read if they didn't escape but I did feel maybe a different way would have been good – for me anyway. As usual there's many readers for whom this book is perfect. Some, like Val and  Askook, its easy to trace a line of how they come to be known to each other, but other things just happen beyond co-incidence for me. I did feel for Ruth, like many women of the time – Martha for instance – she led a tough life, scraping a life out of so little. I still didn't really like her though. 
 Like I said, I so wanted to love this story, it sounded perfect for me but it wasn't to be. However reading is subjective and I can see that's its perfect for many other readers so it could be just what you want. 

Stars: Two and a half, there were things I enjoyed, but sadly not enough to outweigh the bits I didn't. 

ARC supplied by Netgally and publishers
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This is a well researched book which gives a good account of the struggles of the time.  Overall I enjoyed the story and felt a sympathy for the main characters.  There was a lot of description and imagery and I felt that in the first couple of chapters this almost overwhelmed the story, to be honest I nearly gave up but I'm glad I didn't.  There are definitely some timing issues with the accomplishment of an unbelievable amount of manual work and the lightning fast learning of not 1 but 2 languages.  I also found the inability of the English troops to guard their prisoners fairly unbelievable.  I found the ending quite rushed and a little far fetched, it was in the last few chapters that I felt the decisions made didn't ring true.  All this sounds quite negative but they were a couple of jarring notes in what was otherwise a great story with alot to say about life in the colonies especially for those not willing to toe the religious or gendered expectationd of the time.  At times a a reader this felt unrelenting harsh however it also felt authentic, this was not an easy place to live.
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There is much in the book to like: interesting characters, a feel for the dialect of the time, a compelling love story, a spunky heroine. The author has clearly done her research into the mores and conflicts of the period as well as the plants and foods one might expect to encounter at this particular locale and era. 

However, I found the pacing a bit much. A lot of stuff happens in a short period of time. Either the heroine is some kind of energizer bunny or the author has no clue how long it can take to a. put in the foundations of a cabin, b. learn to carve, and c. build a rock wall while still managing one’s day-to-day chores. There’s a level of fantasy here that moves this book beyond historical fiction. Also, the similes, especially in the 2/3s of the book, sometimes stretched to the point where they distracted from, rather than, enhancing the story. 

However, all in all, Forward the Following Sea was a fun read. If George R.R. Martin and Delia Owens had a book baby, this would be it.
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Wow! A wonderful fictional account of 1600's New England, Ruth is a 16 year old girl without any hope. She is friends with a sailor, Owen but with war with France putting Owen at risk, and constantly charged with witchcraft, Ruth is often in dire need of kindness. This book is well researched; Ruth has to overcome so much - injustice, no rights because she is a woman, danger from not just Native tribes but even those of your own culture, poor medical care, and harsh weather. 1600's New England was not pleasant and this book helps to one to see just how life was as this country began.
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While no doubt thoroughly researched and historically accurate, I could not finish this overwhelmingly bleak book. Perhaps it got better in the end, but too many mean-spirited, horrible characters combined with the stark tragedies of life just did me in. 

I do thank NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this.
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