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A True Account

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Hannah Masury is working at an inn on Boston Harbor. She is a young teen who has been bound out for service and has become accustomed to an incredibly hard life. She and a group of friends watch the hanging of three pirates, including the infamous William Fry, but this leads to events that force Hannah to flee. She disguises herself as a cabin boy whose murder she hears and joins the crew of the pirate Ned Low.

This story comes to light when Kay, an undergraduate, brings Hannah’s story to the attention of Professor Marian Beresford in 1930. Marian is determined to discover the missing pieces of Hannah’s story, and the author does an outstanding job of weaving the two timelines.

I was drawn to the book by the title, and I found it to be most enjoyable. Is it suitable for young readers? No, no, no ... Not at all. These are tales of pyrates.
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I love a good adventure story and it’s even better if it includes pirates and history.  This story is told during two different time periods, the 1700’s and the 1930’s.  It illustrates how the times for women have changed throughout the years, and sadly, how they have remained the same.

In the 1700’s, Hannah Masury is an orphaned indentured servant who runs into an unusual situation and is forced to get out of Boston.  She disguises herself as a boy and boards a ship to serve as a cabin boy.

Meanwhile,  professor Miriam Beresford pours over an old document about a woman pirate that is thought to be authentic.  It is believed that there is treasure still unclaimed and she sets out to find it, only to discover that she has been tricked.  

The story goes back and forth from Hannah to the professor as the truth is gradually uncovered.  I found this to be a fun adventure story and I liked the mystery of finding where the buried treasure might be.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Henry Holt & Company for allowing me to read an advance copy.  I am pleased to recommend this and give my honest review.
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This story is told in dual timelines of 1726 and 1930. Marian Beresford is a professor at Radcliffe College, the female coordinate to Harvard, when a student comes to her with a manuscript that leads them on a treasure hunt to the Florda Keys. This story is interspersed with pieces of the journal told in first person by Hannah Masury of how she came to sail with pirates including the famed Ned Low in search of a hidden treasure. I did find some of the timeline transitions be a little rough or abrupt.

I really enjoyed Hannah’s story though some of the tedious daily life on the ship dragged a bit at times. The pirate politics was interesting and added good tension to the story propelling it along with mutinies, revenge, skirmishes and tropical locales. All the things you expect from a pirate story. I especially enjoyed the parrot that they procured during a raid and how it squawked at them in French.

As for Marian’s part of the story, I enjoyed her excitement for the project and the connection she felt with Hannah. However, the dynamic with her student, Kay, was strange and frustrating to me. While the manuscript was found by Kay, as the professor, project lead and procurer of funding, Marian came across as oddly intimidated by the girl and let her run roughshod over the entire process with little to no protest though I found the similar relationship with her intimidating father to be understandable. I would have enjoyed this story more if Marian had come across as a stronger female protagonist. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Henry Holt & Company for a copy provided for an honest review.
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4.5/5 Stars! 
When the publishers of this book approached me about reading and reviewing this book, I was really glad, mostly because my late November TBR of ARCs was pretty thin, so I needed to have something to read. Yeah, sure, I could have grabbed some novellas, but when I read what this was about, I have to say that my immediate reaction was “oh, this sounds fun” and, knowing I had time to read it, I accepted right away! 

Now, to be honest, I’m not really into pirates (correctly or incorrectly spelled), but I did watch a couple of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, mostly because I remember going on the ride when I was seven in Disneyland. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about pirates before, and certainly none about female pirates. I knew that they weren’t considered to be the nicest of people, but I wasn’t really prepared for some of the violence described here. Not that Howe gets truly gory or overly graphic, but there are a few passages here that were pretty bloody. Now, I’m a bit on the squeamish side, but thankfully Howe stopped at the edge of “yuck” before falling into the “gross” where I might have had to put the book down altogether. So, yes, these sections of the book were well balanced for me (but I’m guessing that some horror fans will be a bit disappointed that she didn’t go far enough). All I can say to that is, I’m happy she reigned it in just enough.

By the way, I guess I didn’t read the blurb overly closely because I didn’t realize that there were going to be two timelines with this story. The one niggle I have with this book is how abruptly we sent from Hannah’s story to Marian’s parts. When we first move from Hannah to Marian, all I got (and maybe the final will be slightly different) was the name of the city on one line, and then the more modern part began. To begin with, I was sure that there was something wrong with my file, or that I had missed something, and it took me a few lines of reading before I realized what was happening here. 

Now, I know that many people are getting tired of dual timelines, but despite the technical problem mentioned above, I have to admit that these two worked pretty well together. You see, with such an unreliable narrator as Hannah in the earlier parts, combined with such obscure historical references, you really do need something, or someone, more objective to help see through the embellishments and get to the reality of the tale. That’s where Marian comes in, with her background in being a history professor, together with her father’s past experience as an explorer. 

The thing is, Howe uses all of this to her best advantage, and not only keeps these two timelines broken up so that we’re excited to read on, but she also surprises us with some interesting twists. What I found out in the author’s notes is that there were some personal connections to Howe’s own family history, which is why I noted that this is also a biographical, historical fiction novel! (Remember, never skip reading the authors’ notes. These can be essential to reading any literary historical fiction book!) In sum, I must say that this was as much fun as I hoped it would be, and maybe a touch more. Therefore, I’m warmly recommending it to people who are looking for historical stories in unusual settings and less familiar eras. For all that, I think that it deserves a very respectful four and a half stars out of five!
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In Boston, Hannah Masury – bound out to service at a waterfront inn since childhood , watches a man is  be hanged for piracy in the town square and  hears the whispers of a treasure he left behind in the Caribbean.  When she attempts to help a boy from that ship who was hiding, two men come after the two of them. ....the boy winds up dead and they search for Hannah so she would suffer the same fate., Hannah is forced to flee for her life, disguising herself as a cabin boy in the  crew of the notorious pirate Edward "Ned" Low. Meanwhile, professor Marian Beresford pieces Hannah’s story together in 1930, seeing her own lack of freedom reflected back at her. . At the center of Hannah Masury’s account, however, lies a centuries-old mystery that Marian is determined to solve, just as Hannah may have been determined to take it to her grave.

I am usually a huge fan of this author's books, but this one fell flat for me.  The writing was excellent, and you could tell she was passionate about the subject matter.  She did extensive research into the subject,  I think, for me, I just could not get fully invested in the story because I just didn't enjoy reading about pirates.  This is entirely on me.  I did enjoy the end of the book, where there were a couple of surprising twists.  For that reason, I will give this a solid 4.
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A riveting dual timeline that shares the story of two women trying to find their way in a world that is dominated, and dictated by men.  Part pirate tale and part historical mystery the stories of Hannah and Marian intertwine to expose a long hidden secret of a female pirate who was against the odds in her deception, but survived to tell her tale- or did she?  Excellent storytelling made this an engaging read!  Another great historical from Katherine Howe!
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What a tale! Marian, a professor at Radcliffe and daughter of a daring adventurer, is skeptical at first when Kay, one of her students,  shows her Hannah's "true account" - a book by a woman who, disguised as a. boy, sailed with pirates.  Hannah's story is amazing, especially for a woman in the early 18th century but it's also raw and graphically violent.  She takes the place and the name of Will of a boy she met by chance and finds herself in the grasp of Ned Lowe, a vicious man who first leads a mutiny and then attacks a French ship for its treasures.  Ned is looking for the treasure buried by another pirate and, in the early 20th century so will Marian, Kay, and her father.  You might not think much of Marian's story at first but wait- she's got hidden depths and there's a whopper of a twist coming.  I found myself caught up in Hannah's world, with Seneca, with the dog and the parrot, even with all the horrors and rooting for her.  No spoilers for this one but know that you will be surprised.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  Great page turning read.
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Fact or Fiction? Is this a true account of Hannah, a woman pirate? Is there a treasure to be found? This book is set in two timelines. One timeline is Hannah's memoir--a rough orphan from the streets of Boston--that joins up with a pirate crew in efforts to get out of a dangerous situation. This is its own story as is the one in the second timeline. The second timeline is set in the 1930's when Hannah's manuscript is discovered and  skimpy details of a hidden treasure are found. Katherine Howe does historical fiction well and does not fail to please with her new novel. Thank you to NetGalley and Henry Holt and Co Publishers for the digital ARC. I was very excited to read this book and the review is my own opinion.
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This was a really fun adventure story! I'm noticing more pirate books lately, and was really excited to see one from one of my favorite authors, Katherine Howe. The story was well-paced and really kept my attention -- I think I finished this in about 2 days!

I would have rated this a full five stars, except I wasn't totally in love with some of the aspects of the portion of the story with Marian, her father, and Kay. I understand why it was included and what it lent to the book overall, but I really wish I had more with Hannah and the pirates -- that was so much fun!
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Katherine Howe is well-versed in mariner lingo and the real life of pirates—not the swashbucklers of literature but the gritty, dangerous kind that prowled the seas in the early 18th century. As the title explains, much of the novel is the autobiography of a serving girl fleeing from trouble who disguises herself as a cabin boy and works alongside misfits and desperados of the sea. Although Hannah’s story is fiction, her captain is based on the real, cold-blooded pirate Edward Low. As she learns the ropes and what governs the crew, Hannah’s story is paralleled by a professor, Marian Beresford, who strives to get out of her famous father’s shadow and find Hannah’s buried treasure in 1930. 
A True Account: Hannah Masury’s Sojourn Amongst the Pyrates, Written by Herself is a fascinating read. It draws you into these two women’s lives but doesn’t complete the whole picture. You have to paint that in yourself, given the clues provided.

Prerelease book provided by NetGalley for review consideration.
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This book is a wild and exciting ride.  I almost didn't finish it; there are graphic depictions of violence (I know, I know, it's a book about pirates; what was I expecting?).  In the end, though, I kept going, because I wanted so badly to know how it ended!  There are multiple twists at the end that had me racing through the last quarter of the book.  While one twist wasn't convincing to me (due to an inconsistency that I can't explain without spoiling the book), it was still a fascinating tale.  I've never read another book like this one.  While I'm not normally one for two-timeline stories, this one brought the timelines together expertly (aside from the really jarring initial transition from Hannah's story to Marian's; I was really confused at first).  It's difficult for me to rate this book, because in some ways, it wasn't my cup of tea - but putting aside my personal preferences regarding foul language and graphic violence, this is a well-written and mesmerizing read.

I received a free digital advanced reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for a review; I was not required to provide positive feedback.
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Professor Marian Beresford is prone to temptation. As a lesbian in 1930s America, she has to keep her desires on the QT. She’s also used to having her academic opinions dismissed by men. So when a student presents her with what appears to be a real diary of an eighteenth-century woman detailing how she came to be a pirate at the beginning of Katherine Howe’s engrossing novel, A True Account, Marian can’t help but be ensnared by what might be the greatest discovery of her career.

The first chapter of A True Account is told by Hannah Masury, who works at a dockside tavern in Boston. There are few opportunities for a poor woman in 1726 with no family connections. Life doesn’t really get any better than a stolen moment to smoke her pipe or escape with her friends for an afternoon; there’s nothing better to hope for. On the day we meet Hannah, she’s decided to escape from the tavern and go to the execution of a notorious pirate with her friends. That same day also includes a series of bizarre events that see Hannah—now in disguise as a young boy—signing on as the cabin boy of a ship that is almost immediately taken over by the violent pirate Edward Low.

The manuscript in Marian’s hands is incredible. It looks plausible but the odds that it’s real are vanishingly small. And yet, Marian agrees to partner with the student who found the manuscript and approach her explorer father for funds to travel to Florida, on the hunt for the treasure hinted at by Hannah in her account. The narrative shifts back and forth in time as Hannah and Marian take turns sharing their adventures. Both of these stories caught and held my interest, a tricky thing with split-time novels. Even though Hannah’s chapters are full of pirates and violence and the constant possibility of being discovered, Marian’s chapters are full of hope that she might finally have found something important enough to allow her to finally step out of the long shadow of her famous father.

I really enjoyed the way that Howe teased me about the authenticity of Hannah’s manuscript. Just when I made up my mind one way about it, there would be something that would make me doubt. Why is Marian’s student, Kay, so busy courting the media when they’re trying to keep the expedition quiet? Why do so many of the details of Hannah’s account match up with contemporary maps and pirate lore while others don’t? Readers who have read R.L. Stevenson’s classic Treasure Island will have some pointed questions. Thankfully, Howe doesn’t leave us wondering at the end.

I think readers who love historical fiction and historical mysteries will have a blast reading about Hannah and Marian’s adventures. I certainly did.
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Sadly this did not live up to my expectations. I loved The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane so much and I just keep hoping that each of Howe's books will live up to that one but they have not.
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A rollicking and brutal story and the woman who investigates it, A True Account relates the story of young woman pirate Hannah Masury in 1726 and Radcliffe professor Marian Beresford’s quest in the 1930s to uncover Masury’s secrets. With Al, the twists and turns of an 18th century ocean voyage on a pirate ship, Katherine Howe’s latest is enthralling. Her sense of place is impeccable. The characters are beyond interesting. The back matte is a huge bonus. Four stars or five stars? I was so jarred by the first transition from Hannah’s to Marian’s storyline that I turned back to the very beginning to see if I missed something. Perhaps the formatting of the galley is different from what the print book will be. Or perhaps I was supposed to feel that way - as Marian was so absorbed and transported by Hannah’s story. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to help this arc in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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Fantastic swashbuckling pirate story told in dual timelines .Katherine Howe has written an exciting bpage turning adventure a female pirate beyond exciting.#netgalley #henryholtbooks
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A wonderful swashbuckling adventure.   I better liked reading the older (1700's Hannah) timeline and wanted more of the highseas adventure.  Good read.

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Hannah Masury finds herself in an interesting situation after watching a man hung for piracy. There are whispers of a treasure in the Caribbean spread and Hannah is forced to run for her life. She disguises herself as a cabin boy in the pitiless crew of a notorious pirate ship. 

Centuries later, Professor Marian Beresford pieces Hannah’s story together and sees her own lack of freedom reflected back at her. Marian is determined to solve the mystery that Hannah very well may have taken to her grave. 

I really wanted to like this book, the premise sounded really interesting, and I couldn’t wait to dive in. The book started out pretty slow, and it was hard to get into. Then without warning we switched characters and a few hundred years. I found the transition really hard. The characters were similar enough that it took a while to figure out whose point of view we were reading. I think there is a missed opportunity to add chapter headers or really anything that will guide the reader along their journey. Once I got over this, I did find myself enjoying the story, but I still struggled. I did appreciate the level of research that seemed to go into this one, it was very apparent.

If you are looking for an interesting historical fiction about a female pirate, then check this one out. Just be prepared for some rough transitions. 

Thank you very much to Henry Holt & Company, and Netgalley, @netgalley for this e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
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I loved this dual-timeline historical fiction novel featuring Hannah Masury, an indentured servant who finds herself a pirate in the 1720s, and Marian Beresford, a professor following Hannah's tracks in the 1930s. The writing and adventure stories for both characters were so engrossing that I was both looking forward to and not wanting the viewpoints to switch. I found the ending both surprising, so smart and one I keep thinking about.
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Katherine Howe has written a multilayered, cinematic, swashbuckling tale. Hannah Masury, a young woman living in Boston in 1726, is the narrator of this exciting book. Due to various circumstances, she ends up pretending to be a boy on a ship taken over by pirates, and this book is seemingly her autobiography. At a certain point in the book, things take an unexpected turn and the book becomes something else. I did not know this going in, but since it’s in the publisher’s blurb, I guess it’s not a spoiler, but I’m glad I knew nothing, so read no further if you don’t want to know.
Just when Hannah’s tale is getting extremely suspenseful, the story shifts into the 1930s, and you realize that Hannah’s book is being discussed by professor Marian Beresford and a student of hers. Her student is convinced that the book is real and that there is buried treasure to be found. Marian is skeptical but intrigued. The duel stories continue and converge into a very satisfying ending, with the author’s notes bringing even more delightful details into play. 

Howe has done her research. The descriptions of Colonial Boston, the action on the ship, Marian’s life in the 1930s… it all comes to life in her exquisite prose. Hannah is a non-conventional woman and Marian is as well, both trying to navigate their way in a world run by men. My only criticism is that the sections about Marian were not quite as captivating as Hannah’s. And there is quite a lot of violence, to be expected in a book about pirates, so beware. This is a fantastic book for lovers of historical fiction, especially pirate stories!
Thank you NetGalley and Henry Holt & Company, for letting me read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to Netgalley for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Henry Holt & Co. simply does not miss! Katherine Howe wrote the HELL out of this book. There’s a lot here that is hit-or-miss for me generally (split timelines, alternating between first and third person POV) that I LOVED here because it was so, so well executed. This is an author who knows her craft.

It’s impressive how distinct the voices are that Howe creates in this book—Hannah’s narrative was so convincing and engrossing that I was actually taken aback the first time we “flashed forward” to Marian’s narrative, because I had forgotten from the blurb that this is a split timeline narrative! All of the descriptions are rich and evocative from the start. This meant the book had a bit of a slower start for me, as so much work is put into creating that sense of immersion, but I didn’t mind because even the scene descriptors added to the sense of impending adventure.

I’d note for readers who are averse to horror to read cautiously here; there isn’t a *ton,* but at the end of the day this book is largely about pirates, so there were some moments of violence that took me aback. They didn’t feel out of place, but I could see a reader with a more sensitive stomach maybe doing less well in those places. They are few and far in between, though, so still worth the read either way.

Also impressive is how the more modern (relatively speaking) timeline was just as engrossing as the pirate one! Marian’s feelings, fears, and struggles as she navigates her place in the world (with regards to her gender, her age, her sexuality, her occupation) are so compelling and thoughtfully written. You root for her every bit as much as she is rooting for Hannah. The twists in this near the end were particularly shocking (in a good way)—I read the last fifty percent of this book in a day because I just couldn’t put it down.

5 seaworthy stars!
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