February 12, 2000

The Pirate Queen, by Patricia Hickman

The Pirate Queen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Saphora is a woman who feels that she has become less than she could be, less than she should be, because of the pressures of her less-than-ideal family life. On the heels of Eat, Pray, Love, this book shows us a more realistic version of a common occurrence. A woman gives all she has to her husband, her children, her home, only to find that she reaches a certain point feeling totally spent. The emptiness that could engulf her brings about a last-ditch effort to salvage what is left of her life. In a desperate attempt to escape, she intends to move out and try life on her own.

Here’s where this story veers off from the typical plot. This time, fate steps in before the woman gets the chance to step out. On her way to the car with her suitcase, Saphora’s husband comes home early to tell her he’s dying. In the course of taking care of her terminal spouse, handling the extended family and their idiosyncrasies, and meeting some new friends, Saphora finds her perspective on life changing.

The themes of The Pirate Queen are so universal for women, although very often mishandled. How many of us can say we have a storybook family, instead of a family full of humans that are sometimes whacked out, quirky, or strange? What woman hasn’t felt like throwing in the towel? What mother hasn’t felt unappreciated? What wife hasn’t felt unloved? And how many times are we encouraged to live for ourselves at the cost of our families? Too many books and movies glorify escape as the only happy ending, an ending that women are invited to discover when they take the journey to find themselves. Saphora found herself pretty close to where she’d always been.

Lest I spoil it for you, I’ll vaguely tell you that there were several important issues touched upon in this book, such as terminal illness, marital fidelity, and child neglect. At times the conflicts were coming right on top of each other, as tends to happen in real life. Some things weren’t resolved in the way or in the time frame that is usually found in this style of book, which made it all come alive even more. I look forward to reading more by this author.

You can read the first chapter here, and also use this study guide in a small group setting or alone.

NOTE: WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group provided me with a free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to post a positive review.

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