First Fury

Written by Thomas Macy
Review by John Manhold

Against her parents’ wishes Ann, a native of Rochester, New York, leaves home with a man she believes she will marry. Abandoned instead, alone, bitter and without resources, she finds employment working the mules that pull barges along the Erie Canal (a still-functional waterway across New York State). Deciding to find the man, she goes to New York City, hears he has joined a whaling vessel, and signs on another, intending to find and kill him. The story describes her experiences while living as a man in the brutally dangerous whaling profession, its hunting grounds from the Falklands, around the Horn and into the Pacific and the often physically and mentally intolerable activities required are described. The story moves well, and although some of character description is not clear, and Ann’s ability to be accepted as a young boy for several months in the confines of a ship the size and structure of a sailing vessel of this period is difficult to accept, as a whole degree of empathy is developed for the characters so that readers may enjoy.