Phoebe’s Light

Written by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Review by Bryan Dumas

In this first book in the new Nantucket Legacy series from Suzanne Woods Fisher, she turns her keen historical storytelling loose on the lives of Quakers in 17th- and 18th-century Massachusetts, and specifically Nantucket Island.

Phoebe Starbuck is smitten with the handsome whaling ship captain Phineas Foulger and is determined that she will become his wife. Unfortunately, her father, Barnabas, happens to be the town joke—known more for his failed business ventures than his esteemed familial lineage. Also standing in Phoebe’s way is Sarah, Phineas’s daughter from a previous marriage.

Matthew Macy, the town’s cooper, drunk and former Quaker, has a tenuous past with Phoebe. When Phineas finally concedes to marrying Phoebe—for reasons not based on love or family, but greed—Barnabas asks Matthew to sail with Phoebe as she stubbornly forces herself as a part of the crew on Phineas’ last whale hunt. Reluctantly, Matthew signs on and agrees to protect Phoebe. But unbeknownst to them both, Phineas is a man of many secrets, all of which come to light as they sail into the storms.

The overall theme of the book is that of pride, and it comes in many facets: Phoebe’s desires for marriage, Barnabas and his failures, Matthew’s attitudes toward the Quakers, and in the secondary story of Mary Coffin (Phoebe’s great-grandmother, who is a part of the original Quaker settlers of Nantucket), whose journal Phoebe is reading throughout the book. This is a heartwarming love story and reminder of God’s faithfulness in a person despite their own pride. It is well-written, the characters are sharply drawn, and the history of Nantucket is an equally engaging character. A good book to remind you that God’s love is ever enduring, and an absorbing look at the history of the Quakers in colonial Massachusetts.