Saturday, September 8, 2012

Nancy Sprowell Geise - The Eighth Sea

The Eighth Sea

By Nancy Sprowell Geise

Kindle Edition Available

Product Description (from Amazon) 

Publication Date: January 1, 2012
Have You Found Your Eighth Sea? In the cold, black hold of a sailing ship, a young woman lies dying, tormented that her death will mean nothing. No one will know. No one will care. Only the will to find a purpose for her life keeps breath in her exhausted body. Far away, a soft Carolina breeze touches a mother’s face as she peers into the night sky, agonizing over the loss of her infant daughter nineteen years before. A haunting vision that will not leave her—it whispers of a living tie, still unbroken, to that baby long ago. Worlds apart and unaware of one another, the mother and daughter fight their lonely battles for survival. Between them—a man rising to greatness with the new America will bring them together. The themes of this story are deep and universal: a long journey; separation and return; uncertainty; searching and finding; the search for understanding God’s will amidst tragedy; and finally, the realization that people can be bound together forever. The Eighth Sea is a passionate love story involving two unforgettable characters—Brenna and Nathan. Their story is our story—finding our place in the world, the meaning of our lives, our way home. Brenna's solution is to set sail beyond the only world she has ever known and into her eighth sea. The story is inspirational, and its romance is deep and enduring. Struggling to triumph are three major characters: Brenna—determined to find her place in the world yet haunted by the shadows of abandonment and self-doubt; Emily—plagued with grief over the loss of her only child an unable to shake a disturbing sense that something is unresolved; and Nathan—strong and charismatic, discovering that in his search for Brenna, he has found himself. Their story is a tribute to the human experiences of good overcoming evil, the power of persistence, seeking God, and finally, of love enduring against all odds. The Eighth Sea—finding the meaning of our lives, our way home.

About the Author (from Amazon)

Nancy was raised in Ames, Iowa and is a graduate of Iowa State University. She and her husband Doran have lived in Austin, Texas; Fort Collins, Colorado; and Topeka, Kansas.

In 1979, when Nancy was a senior in high school, her English teacher Grace Bauske (Ames High School, Ames, Iowa), made an off-handed remark to Nancy that she "should be writing." That comment stayed with Nancy for many years until she finally decided to make it happen. Nancy thought about all the things she loved in stories--seeking and finding; romance; perseverance against all odds; the idea that people can be bound together forever; and finally, the universal struggle for all of us, finding our place in the world, our way home. As soon as Nancy made the decision to begin writing, the story came to total.

The actual writing of The Eighth Sea evolved over several years and included extensive research of life aboard a 1700 sailing vessel and the areas of St. Christopher, West Indies (now called St. Kitts); Bath and Bristol, England; and Charleston, South Carolina.

Many unexpected events unfolded for Nancy in the process of writing the novel. One was the creation of a theme song. When Nancy worked on the book, she found find herself humming a little melody. She decided to see if she could play it on the piano. (Nancy barely plays the piano, so this was a task!) When her husband heard the song, he commented, "That sounds like your novel. You should put words to it." A light bulb went off...Nancy got a poem she had written for her character Emily. Nancy had never been able to find a place for the poem in the book. The poem basically dropped into the music. Nancy then gathered a group of musicians and they recorded the song.

The novel is, in part, about a family journeying by ship from England to America in 1769. There is a ship wreck and they think they've lost Brenna, their infant daughter, at sea (when in fact, she was rescued and raised on the island of St. Christopher). The book skips 19 years later to Brenna's life. The song is written from Emily's perspective (Brenna's mother). Emily is never able to come to terms with the loss of her daughter, always sensing that something was not right. The song is Emily willing her thoughts, through the wind and over the sea, to her lost daughter. The painting on the novel cover is of Brenna, standing on a faraway shore, listening.

To hear the song and watch the novel cover being created on canvass by artist Susan Jenkins, please visit:

For more information about The Eighth Sea:

Nancy is available for presentations and book clubs. She is humbled and moved by the stories she is hearing of the ways The Eighth Sea is touching its readers. She asks that you keep sharing them with her:

Nancy is currently working on her second novel.

The Eighth Sea Theme Song:
Words and music by Nancy Geise; Vocals-Gyll Perkins; Piano and Score Translation-Matt Baretich; Cello-Heidi Nagel; Tin Whistle-Pamela Robinson; Orchestral Enrichment-Jerry Palmer; Technical Engineering-Russ Hopkins; Recorded and Produced-KIVA Recording Studio/Russ Hopkins Productions, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Author's photo by photographer Crystal Geise

For more art by Susan Jenkins:

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Rachel

This book holds a lot of promise, and some genuinely “good spots” that are frequent enough to keep the reader turning pages.   Unfortunately, as a whole, I did not find the story overly enjoyable ... it was good, just not all that great.

The basic plot is a common formula.  A girl in hard circumstances runs away from them, in the process putting herself into far worse of a situation that what she was running from.  A dashing young man comes to her rescue, but because she doesn’t trust anyone, and he isn’t much for communication, things get worse and worse.  Finally, the young man rescues the girl and the rough spots are all worked out and they find themselves madly in love and get married.

“The Eighth Sea” is a Christian Historical Romance.  Yet it pulls up short on all three accounts.  There is a single Bible verse that is on her bracelet that is quoted often, plus referrals to God are frequent, but not so much a part of the story that all Christian influence could easily be removed and the story wouldn’t miss it much.  It is set in the early American days, pre-revolution I think.  Plus a good deal of time is spent on the ship, and in England.  However, it is merely set in those time periods, and doesn’t have very much to do with the story as a whole.   It probably did best in the Romance department, although there wasn’t much steam in the story, but it tried its best to be a tear jerker and with a mystery/adventure twist.   There is plenty of romance, but the characters seemed a bit shallow to me, especially our young hero, who nearly ruined his chances by “teasing” his way through the relationship.

But the worst used literary device was the flashback.  I quickly became confused whenever it was implemented, due to the fact that they were embedded.  So you have a flashback to the shipwreck where Brenna was lost, while they are on the ship, there is a flashback to them packing, which leads to another flashback of an earlier time in their marriage ... and so on, then the flashbacks end and suddenly you are ... when?   It was often difficult to keep all the timelines straight.  Fortunately, the story usually ran along without the flashbacks.

I was somewhat shocked though, when upon reaching the end of the book, to find a substantial amount of “Discussion Questions” for the story.  For those who wish to read the book in a group, I suppose this would lend itself well to the emotional side of the story.

One of the best used literary devices was the near miss.  These were skillfully used to keep the reader turning pages and well involved in the book.  Just as you think things are going to work themsevles out, the plot would take an almost sickening turn as you felt your stomach drop in dismay, as they came so close to working things out, but not yet.  One of the best scenes using this, involved a bath house, Brenna was sneaking around town at night, removing the flyers that Nathan had placed all over the English countryside.  Suddenly, she hears voices and she hides inside, moments later, Nathan and a beautiful young woman arrive.  The young woman sees Brenna, realizes who she is, and deftly avoids saying anything and keeping Nathan occupied.  Brenna is thankful that the woman didn’t give her away, meanwhile, the woman is horrified that Nathan is so close to finding Brenna, because she wants Nathan to marry her.

There are many interesting characters along the way.  Some you will adore, and others quite the opposite.  None are so well developed to make them very memorable, although I found myself liking the first mate quite a lot.

Most young romantic teens will enjoy the story.  It has plenty of good, and interesting twists in the simple plot line.

Note:  The story involves some intense themes.  The reading level is low enough that most 9 year olds could read this book, but material may not be suitable for younger readers.   Descriptions are vague enough though, that the average 12 year old could handle the book.

Each chapter ends with “thought questions” to lend itself to a group study.

Genre/Theme:  Early American History, Romance, England and Ship Life, Mild Christianity

Reading Level:  TEEN - upper elementary to middle school  -  there are a few spots that may be a problem for some younger readers.  Ages 11 and up should enjoy it.
Profanity:  LOW - few mildly offensive words
Sexuality:  MILD - descriptions of affection/desire  -- descriptions of desire from the captain, several compromising situations, attempted rape,  a wedding night, and a woman scantily clad who is trying to seduce a character.
Other: Brenna nearly starves to death, her step father is very abusive, once in England, she runs away and the man who employs her nearly rapes her and frames her for murder.

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