Category Archives: Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series

Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series — Book 3

Rhode Island Rendezvous; Book 3 of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series

“An insightful look at life at sea during the colonial era, this novel offers a combination of adventure, discovery, and intrigue.”

– The BookLife Prize

 

“Entertaining throughout, the expansive saga charts high-seas adventures between New England, the West Indies,and ports in between in the eighteenth century. The third novel in the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure series picks up the engaging narrative of a cross-dressing surgeon’s mate who strikes out as a ship captain in a profession that was then solely the province of men.

Set during a period of social unrest in the American colonies after the Seven Years’ War, when people are rioting over the newly imposed Stamp Act, the meticulously researched novel tracks Patricia MacPherson, an upperclass woman in boarding school cast adrift after the abrupt death of her Caribbean plantation–owning father. Setting off on her own, she poses as Patrick MacPherson, a former surgeon’s mate in His Majesty’s Navy, disguising herself as “a rising young merchant seaman dressed to go to a wedding feast where he will rub shoulders with Newport’s best.” Determined to make her fortune, she becomes a smuggler who sneaks in molasses for “Yankee Gold” Rhode Island Rum and ends up captaining the schooner Andromeda as it embarks on a dangerous international voyage.”

— Foreword Reviews

 

Based on the novel Star-Crossed (Alfred A. Knopf; 2006), a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age – 2007, The Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series is adult historical fiction featuring an orphaned young woman — illegitimate daughter of a profligate Barbadian sugar baron — who takes the identity of her late husband’s dead nephew in order to survive.

Rhode Island Rendezvous, the third book in the series, finds the cross-dressing Patricia master of a colonial trading schooner. It’s 1765 in Newport, Rhode Island. The Seven Years War is over but unrest in the American colonies is just heating up. Maintaining her disguise as a young man, Patricia is finding success as Patrick MacPherson. Formerly a surgeon’s mate in His Majesty’s Navy, Patrick has lately been employed aboard the colonial merchant schooner Andromeda, smuggling foreign molasses into Rhode Island. Late October, amidst riots against the newly imposed Stamp Act, she leaves Newport bound for the West Indies on her first run as Andromeda’s master. In Havana a chance meeting with a former enemy presents unexpected opportunities while an encounter with a British frigate and an old lover threatens her liberty – and her life.

 

Collison’s own extensive medical background, combined with her expertise as a blue-water wind-and-weather sailor, gives incredible natural authority to her writing.” — Steven E. Maffeo; A Perfect Wreck

 

“An excellent job has been done with MacPherson… There is a well-rounded duality of gender that allows both male and female perspectives: a clever trick, and one that comes across perfectly.” – Alaric Bond; The Fighting Sail Series.

 

“Barbados Bound is a rousing and engaging tale of the almost impossible challenges facing a young woman cast adrift in 18th Century British Empire.” – Rick Spilman; The Shantyman.

 

Available from your favorite bookstore to order, and from Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pre-order Rhode Island Rendezvous

Rhode Island Rendezvous

Newport Rhode Island: 1765

The Seven Years War is over but unrest in the American colonies is just heating up…

Maintaining her disguise as a young man, Patricia is finding success as Patrick MacPherson. Formerly a surgeon’s mate in His Majesty’s Navy, Patrick has lately been employed aboard the colonial merchant schooner Andromeda, smuggling foreign molasses into Rhode Island. Late October, amidst riots against the newly imposed Stamp Act, she leaves Newport bound for the West Indies on her first run as Andromeda’s master. In Havana a chance meeting with a former enemy presents unexpected opportunities while an encounter with a British frigate and an old lover threatens her liberty – and her life.

ISBN: 978-1-943404-12-4  Old Salt Press, LLC  Softbound. October, 2017

“An insightful look at life at sea during the colonial era, this novel offers a combination of adventure, discovery, and intrigue.” – The BookLife Prize

“Linda Collison’s Rhode Island Rendezvous thrills as a hard-to-put-down historical novel of nautical derring-do. Entertaining throughout, the expansive saga charts high-seas adventures between New England, the West Indies, and ports in between in the eighteenth century. The third novel in the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure series picks up the engaging narrative of a cross-dressing surgeon’s mate who strikes out as a ship captain in a profession that was then solely the province of men.
Set during a period of social unrest in the American colonies after the Seven Years’ War, when people are rioting over the newly imposed Stamp Act, the meticulously researched novel tracks Patricia MacPherson, an upperclass woman in boarding school cast adrift after the abrupt death of her Caribbean plantation–owning father. Setting off on her own, she poses as Patrick MacPherson, a former surgeon’s mate in His Majesty’s Navy, disguising herself as “a rising young merchant seaman dressed to go to a wedding feast where he will rub shoulders with Newport’s best.” Determined to make her fortune, she becomes a smuggler who sneaks in molasses for “Yankee Gold” Rhode Island Rum and ends up captaining the schooner Andromeda as it embarks on a dangerous international voyage…” — Foreword Reviews

Rhode Island Rendezvous, Book 3 of Patricia MacPherson’s Nautical Adventures (e-book) is available now for pre-order on Kindle

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Women on board

Transgenders serving on ships is nothing new.

I’ve long been interested in women on ships in the Age of Sail — particularly women posing as men, passing as men, doing what was considered men’s work. This interest arose when I signed aboard HM Bark Endeavour, a sailing replica of Captain James Cook’s historic ship, and lived the life of an 18th century seaman for three weeks. This life included heaving, hauling, standing watch, taking my trick at the helm, and going aloft, out on the yard arm to make and furl sail. It included stringing my hammock from the deckhead, snug alongside the other recruits, and taking my turn in the galley. (Although my husband was aboard as crew too, we never once slept together — nor did we even sleep next to each other!) What I learned was that although the work is hard and requires some training, it doesn’t require a Y chromosome.

I’m not by definition transgender. Nor is my fictional character — though in her mid-18th century world she has found it more convenient to be male than female. Actually, she’s found it expedient to be male.  The term transgender first appears in 1974, according to Miriam Webster’s online dictionary, so the concept, as such, doesn’t exist in my series. But the problems are similar: Individuals not allowed to serve in the military because of their apparent sex.

As I’m writing my way through Patricia’s story in the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventures, I’ve learned a lot about life in the 18th century from a female perspective  — a young white female of British heritage. Much depended upon parentage and social standing.  Much depended on luck. And of course much depended on their sex.

Hannah Snell, Royal Marine. Born 1723, died 1792. Buried with the old soldiers at Chelsea Hospital, which was her wish.

The Age of Sail was an Age of War. The emerging nations of Europe waged battles — entire wars — at sea. The need for sailors, marines, and craftsmen continued for several centuries, offering a few hardy and daring females an opportunity to escape social and economic confines, to find adventure – or maybe they were just looking for three meals a day and a hammock to sleep in. For a destitute young woman, life aboard a ship was safer than life on the streets.

What we know about these desperate imposters comes mostly from naval records, broadsheets, and the romanticized biographies and fictionalized memoirs written by or about these cross-dressing or transgender figures. One of the most well known and well documented 18th century female soldier/sailor was Hannah Snell who served first as a soldier in General Guise’s regiment, then as a Royal Marine in Frasier’s Regiment under the name of James Grey. She saw action and was wounded several times in India  “Here is a Woman, and an English Woman, who, notwithstanding the many Dangers and Vicissitudes she underwent for near the Space of five Years, during her Travels, was never found out to be of the feminine Gender.” — from The Female Soldier; the Life and Surprising Adventures of Hannah Snell. (Project Gutenberg) Hannah herself couldn’t write but she sold her story to a London publisher Robert Walker. After she left the service she performed military drills on stage in costume and sang military songs and The Gentleman’s Magazine reported her story for its readers’ enjoyment.  Hannah Snell’s story is unusual in that the Royal Hospital recognized her military service and granted her a pension.

Stories like Hannah Snell’s have inspired my historical novels. I’m not out to prove that cross-dressing or transgender women existed — we know they did — but to explore why they chose that path and how they might have carried it off. Although Hannah Snell’s memoir (published anonymously but likely penned by her publisher) claims finding her estranged husband was her inciting reason, I suspect that was a literary convenience for the publisher, and one the readers might readily accept. The chance of her finding her errant seaman husband was slim — but the chance of her earning a living was guaranteed. Not to mention respect, opportunity, adventure — and a pension.

There may not have been great numbers of cross-dressing women on board ships in the Age of Sail. But there were some. They existed. They carried it off. At least, for a while.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rhode Island on the horizon

Shipping News: Rhode Island Rendezvous, Book Three of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventures, scheduled to arrive in port September 1, 2017.

Newport Rhode Island: 1765

The Seven Years War is over but unrest in the American colonies is just heating up…

 Maintaining her disguise as a young man, Patricia is finding success as Patrick MacPherson. Formerly a surgeon’s mate in His Majesty’s Navy, Patrick has lately been employed aboard the colonial merchant schooner Andromeda, smuggling foreign molasses into Rhode Island. Late October, amidst riots against the newly imposed Stamp Act, she leaves Newport bound for the West Indies on her first run as Andromeda’s master. In Havana a chance meeting with a former enemy presents unexpected opportunities while an encounter with a British frigate and an old lover threatens her liberty – and her life.

What began as Star-Crossed, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2006 as a Young Adult historical novel, has become the Patricia MacPherson series — adult historical fiction. Not that there is graphic sex and gratuitous violence in the adult editions, but because I always intended it for adult readers, which includes many mature teens.

For me, chronicling Patricia’s story has been a way to rediscover history through the eyes of an orphaned teenager, born of a rich English planter in Barbados, who matures as she is forced to make her own way in the world. Writing in first person as I have done is a very immediate and personal experience, almost like reliving a past life.  So intense is the immersion, and challenging because of its limitations, I’ve added a prologue to Rhode Island Rendezvous; a prologue written in close third person from Patricia’s former lover’s perspective.

Writing a book is indeed a journey.  A fourth book and final book in the series is planned and the voyage is soon to begin…

The inspiration for the fictional vessel Andromeda comes from the historic Schooner Lewis R. French, pictured here, and used with their generous permission. While not from colonial times, the Maine-built schooner was launched in 1871 and is very traditional in her design. According to her website, “she freighted bricks, lumber, firewood, granite, fish, lime, canning supplies, Christmas trees, and now people.” Bob and I were among those people, having had the pleasure of cruising aboard the French some years ago. Highly recommended, if you get the chance!

Today she is still powered by sail alone (no engine) — with occasional assistance from a motorized dinghy.  To learn more, visit the schooner’s website schoonerfrench.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More Barbados Bound give-aways

Barbados Bound Amazon E-book Sweepstakes

Congratulations to those who won trade paperback copies of Barbados Bound in our recent Amazon give-away; may you enjoy the voyage. Now we’re offering ten e-book editions of Barbados Bound to be given away in a new Amazon sweepstakes. Enter for a chance to win by clicking on this link.  

Good luck!  And thank you for the thoughtful reviews.

“I came aboard with the prostitutes the night before the ship set sail. It was a rash scheme, but I was a brash girl with nothing to my name but a promise. Half of Europe as at war, but the grappling between kings held little interest for me. Though the conflicts were far flung across the globe, my troubles were of a much more personal nature. My fear was not that England might lose her place in the world, but that I might lose mine…”  Barbados Bound copyright 2010 by Linda Collison.

 

Rhode Island Rendezvous, the third book in the series, will be available this September from Old Salt Press.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

     Placing the freshly groomed peruke on my stubbled head, I looked in the mirror hanging above the dresser of my rented room, adjusting the wig slightly. Acceptable. Yes, except for the ears – rather too small and pink – I passed muster. The only feminine feature about me was my delicate ears – and perhaps my pillowed lips, though they were often sunburned and wind-chapped. I regarded the young man staring back at me from the looking glass. Patrick MacPherson, a rising young merchant seaman dressed to go to a wedding feast where he will rub shoulders with Newport’s best. Good day to you, sir! In this colony anybody could be a gentleman, if he had the means to dress the part. Here, the lowest born man could rise above his station through cunning, hard work, and the right connections. Oh, and luck, I should add. Luck always plays a role. Thus far my luck had been most unpredictable.

     The wig had been made from my very own hair, shorn from my head and at last tamed into submission by the peruke maker’s hand. Two smooth ginger-colored rolls just above my ears and a compliant queue held at the nape by a blue satin ribbon. A shaved head was so much easier, especially at sea, when all I needed was a snug Monmouth cap to keep the wind out of my ears. A shaved head was free of tangles, free of lice. My hair, perfectly groomed, kept in a box, ready for going ashore. No need for powder, no one in Newport bothered with powder anymore. Men were flaunting natural colors – black, brown, and auburn too – though none were as vibrantly colored as mine, the flaming red-gold of a Guy Fawkes bonfire.

     I should have been born male, I thought with chagrin, regarding my reflection. I cut a fine figure in my pressed linen shirt, lace stock, and brocade waistcoat that completely hid my breasts, the size of two quail eggs. My long legs were shown off to their best advantage sheathed in the finest of silk stockings, the tightest of breeches buttoned just below the knee. I had the hind end of a young boy and, as for that part of my anatomy that was decidedly lacking, an old pair of stockings knotted into a ball and stitched inside the crotch of the breeches added the necessary slight bulge.

     Trinity’s bells pealed the hour. The biggest wedding feast Newport had known in months was about to begin. I slipped into my coat, fastened the pewter buttons, adjusted my cravat, and placed the tri-corn on top of my wig. One last look at the young man in the glass, then down the stairs I bounded, a greeting to the innkeeper’s wife, and out onto Thames Street, busy as always this Saturday, with ox carts and carriages drawn by fine Narraganset-bred horses. No carriage for me, but the walk was a short one and I welcomed the opportunity to stretch my legs and catch a glimpse of Andromeda, tossing on the harbor chop and pulling at her dock lines like a restless filly.

     The schooner Andromeda was more often my home than the drafty rented room above the Osprey Inn; I loved her as my own. That morning I assessed her exterior quickly, with a practiced and loving eye. Her reddish brown sails were neatly furled on the booms, her rigging had been freshly tarred, and although her faded hull was in need of a fresh coat of paint, it could wait until spring. Paint was dear. I inspected the dock lines for signs of chaffing, making certain she was well before turning toward Spring Street, shoving my hands, red and cracked, deep into my coat pockets to warm them. The sun was bright but the late October air was raw, smelling of tidewater and wood smoke from hundreds of chimneys.

     My own wedding day, I couldn’t even recall what the weather had been, foul or fair, but I remembered well my mood was gloomy and resigned. Ah, but Aeneas had been a good old man, a firm but kind husband for the brief time I was his wife. And I might have married again, to the man whose memory remained a burning ember, but no. The one man who had known me well, the man who had accepted my ruse but had loved the woman inside, that man was gone from my life. The sorrow over losing him, I still felt it; he was my first love, though I never could have lived as a warrant’s wife, kept like a cat in dark, close quarters belowdecks on the very ship I once served as surgeon’s mate. It wouldn’t have worked, not for me. Not after who I had been and what I had done… 

— from Rhode Island Rendezvous; Book Three of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series, copyright 2017 by Linda Collison

 

 

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