The Loss of the Marion
The Marion is one of many Newfoundland fishing schooners bound for the Grand Banks in 1915; each bears its skipper’s reputation. When Nellie Myles’s husband signs up to serve with a hotheaded skipper involved in a feud, she has a “bad feeling” and, worse, she sees a “token.” A simulacrum of her husband appears on a foggy dock — when there is no fog.
Nelly’s intuition proves correct. The Marion fails to arrive at its first stop, less than 40 nautical miles away, in decent weather. The days pass slowly for the fishing community until the remains of the ship are found. There are no survivors.
Nellie is convinced that an altercation between two skippers somehow caused her husband’s death. A housebound wife and mother, inexperienced with travel, unaccustomed to dealing with professional men, she sets out to investigate the events that led up to the sinking. The results are unexpected and, at times, confusing and, once Nellie accepts what happened, she must tell her community the truth.
The author’s matter-of-fact, sometimes blocky prose suits her stubborn and resourceful subject. Although The Loss of the Marion is based on maritime history, it is Abbott’s portrait of an unusual woman and the way of life seen through her windows that rings true. Highly recommended.