“There’s a big-hearted fearlessness in Michael Parker’s work that, quite honestly, I envy.” —Colum McCann, winner of the National Book award for Let the Great World Spin
"Affecting....Parker's complex world is stocked with compelling characters brought to life by elegant prose."--Publisher's Weekly
"Parker invokes magic as well as mystery in exploring the ways the past not only haunts the present but in some ways anticipates it. Like Faulkner and O'Connor, Parker creates a place of beauty and complexity which, in the end, one is reluctant to leave. A vividly imagined historical tale of isolated lives." —Kirkus Reviews
Michael Parker has created a wholly original world from two known facts: (1) Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of the controversial vice president Aaron Burr, disappeared in 1813 while en route by schooner from South Carolina to New York; and (2) in 1970, two elderly white women and one black man were the last townspeople to leave a small barrier island off the coast of North Carolina.
In this fiction based on historical fact, Parker weaves a tale of adventure and longing as he charts one hundred and fifty years in the life and death of an island and its inhabitants—the descendants of Theodosia Burr Alston and those of the freed man whose family would be forever tethered to hers.
It’s a tale of pirates and slaves, treason and treasures, madness and devotion, that takes place on a tiny island battered by storms, infested with mosquitoes, and cut off from the world—as difficult to get to as it is impossible to leave for those who call it home. From Theodosia’s capture at sea to the passionate lives of her great-great-great-granddaughters to the tender story of the black man who cares for them all his days, this is an inspired novel about love, trust, and the often tortuous bonds of family and community.