+Blog Book Tour+ The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith

Posted Tuesday, 2 September, 2014 by jorielov , , , , 4 Comments

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Published by: Harper Books (@harperbooks)

an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)

Available Formats: Hardback, Audiobook, & Ebook

Official Author Websites: Site | Her Quirky Blog w/ Qs to her brother

Converse via: #TheStoryOfLandAndSea & #KatySimpsonSmith

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Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Story of Land and Sea” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary ARC copy of the book direct from the publisher HarperCollins Publishers, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

+Blog Book Tour+ The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson SmithThe Story of Land and Sea
by Katy Simpson Smith
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours
Narrator: Edoardo Ballerini

Set in a small coastal town in North Carolina during the waning years of the American Revolution, this incandescent debut novel follows three generations of family—fathers and daughters, mother and son, master and slave—characters who yearn for redemption amid a heady brew of war, kidnapping, slavery, and love.

Drawn to the ocean, ten-year-old Tabitha wanders the marshes of her small coastal village and listens to her father’s stories about his pirate voyages and the mother she never knew. Since the loss of his wife, Helen, John has remained land-bound for their daughter, but when Tab contracts yellow fever, he turns to the sea once more. Desperate to save his daughter, he takes her aboard a sloop bound for Bermuda, hoping the salt air will heal her.

Years before, Helen herself was raised by a widowed father. Asa, the devout owner of a small plantation, gives his daughter a young slave named Moll for her tenth birthday. Left largely on their own, Helen and Moll develop a close but uneasy companionship. Helen gradually takes over the running of the plantation as the girls grow up, but when she meets John, the pirate turned Continental soldier, she flouts convention and her father’s wishes by falling in love. Moll, meanwhile, is forced into marriage with a stranger. Her only solace is her son, Davy, whom she will protect with a passion that defies the bounds of slavery.

In this elegant, evocative, and haunting debut, Katy Simpson Smith captures the singular love between parent and child, the devastation of love lost, and the desperate paths we travel in the name of renewal.

Genres: Historical Fiction, Military Fiction, Revolutionary War Era

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0062335944

Published by Harper Books

on 26th August, 2014

Format: Paperback ARC

Length: 7 hours and 28 minutes (unabridged)

Pages: 256

Author Biography:Katy Simpson Smith 

Katy Simpson Smith was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. She attended Mount Holyoke College and received a PhD in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She has been working as an adjunct professor at Tulane University and is the author of We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835. She lives in New Orleans.

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An Editor’s Note inside the ARC:

I am always happily amazed when I find the letter from the Editor or Acquisitions person inside the publishing house who has elected to publish a novel. I get a bit giddy over these little notes which are inclusive to ARCs because from the outside world this little insight is out of sight from those of us who grew up reading finished copies of novels, and never knew what was held within the opening pages of an ARC. I, myself was only exposed to ARCs originally through my participation in the First Impressions programme at Book Browse. The first year I was a book blogger I received a few here or there, but it was in late Spring and into Mid-Summer I started to notice I was receiving more than the occasional few. I simply smiled, because for me, the happiness is in seeing how each publisher approaches the binding of an ARC and the disclosures they put on their back jackets as to how they are going to proceed with publicity and marketing. I like the little unknown details of the passageway a novel travels once it leaves the publisher; little clues I would only be able to fathom a guess untold previously.

Not every ARC has such a note, mind you, but the ones that do always strike me as needing to be included with the finished copy. It is such a curious bit of the novel’s life – this note the person who first came across the manuscript saw the life which is now breathed into the pages has set a note inside this advanced copy as to give the advanced reader the joy by which they had for themselves prior to the novel’s release. This hidden and treasured burst of joy of discovering a new novelist and the manner in which the pen inked out their written legacy. I cherish these notes and as I read this one from Mr. Jonathan Burnham (not an Editor per se, but the Senior Vice President) I felt an inertia of excitement. I saw in his short note of praise on behalf of The Story of Land and Sea, a reader who is lit afire by words and palettes of stories painted by ink. I knew then what I knew at the conclusion of the novel: I had stumbled across something quite remarkable.

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Listen to a passage from the Novel:

The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith

as narrated by Edoardo Ballerini via HarperAudio_US

Starting my second blog tour novel via TLC through an audiobook sample:

Originally, I had been most delighted to share my experience in finding that Yangsze Choo had narrated her novel The Ghost Bride, as I had listened to her read the opening chapter of her novel prior to soaking inside the pages myself with the book in my hands. Imagine my happier joy in finding that this particular book The Story of Land and Sea, is not only released in audiobook but it was available to ‘sample’ via SoundCloud! I have included the sample along with my review, as the most curious nature of ‘listening’ to a novel ahead of consumption for me is having the blessing of hearing certain words and phrases spoken aloud! As I had fully declared on my review for The Ghost Bride, being a dyslexic reader is quite the elliptical adventure! I do not oft know how certain words are intoned or meant to be said aloud, as I garnish my own endearing language as I turn through the pages of the stories I read. Invariably, by the time I have finally sorted out how a word or name is properly said I am not always keen to let go of my original renderings as they have become a ‘part of the story’ as felt and seen through my own eyes of how the tale is revealed.

However, the beauty of audiobook samples online is that I get to curb my dyslexic slips at the jump-start of reading a new novel, soaking in a bit of the author’s original intended voice for their words and alight rather soundly inside the story as it was always meant to be enjoyed. In this instance, the voice of the narrator had a rather profound effect on how I saw the father in the story carry himself through his carriage; he is a strong yet a bit shy of a fellow, confident but not quite fully aware of his strengths at the same time. The actor who portrayed him did a good job of presenting the furrowed thoughts any father would have on behalf of his young daughter growing up without the benefit of a mother; or rather even, as a reflective premonition of how his daughter could mature on the merits of whom her mother was as a younger woman. He is a bit anguished over the history of his wife and daughter, and I appreciated hearing this conviction of emotion thriving in the voice on the audiobook version. Likewise, he did quite a good job at showing the innocent nature of a child – not quite fully understanding her father’s emotional state, and yearning to simply be in his company.

I daresay, this is going to be placed on my audiobook wish list over on Riffle! To think actors are now lending their voices to breathing life into stories lit alive by voice and the mirth of telling a story through the spirit of vocal narration! I ought to have half a mind to recommend a few actors I follow on Twitter to see if they could start to audition as they have speaking voices that I never tire of listening too, and I’d be plumb surprised if they were not a natural fit to this type of story-telling!

My Review of The Story of Land and Sea:

On the coat tails of listening to nearly the first five pages of The Story of Land and Sea, the narrator’s voice has set the stage for me as far as how I hear an echo of his voice as I continue to read the father’s narrative on behalf of introducing me to the the story being laid before my eyes. The actor had such a warmth of conviction it allowed me to add a layer of visualisation I might not have had as quickly had I not begun this novel by listening to the excerpt. This is the second time I have been pleasantly surprised to have found myself readily engaged in reading a print book by way of listening to an audiobook excerpt ahead of my own reading. I daresay, I have found a new way to appreciate reading – both to have turnt the page held close at hand and to have listened to the evoking realism of hearing the character brought fully to life by voice. It is a multi-sensory experience and I am appreciating the ability to bring a new layer of reading into my second year as a book blogger.

The lyrical voice of Smith evokes a stirring pause inside your mind as you start to engage directly into her story; her characters pull you into their world, into their thoughts and set your mind afire with their heart. The beauty is how she tells her story – a slow arc of insightfulness ebbed into the ordinary graces of childhood, fatherhood, and the loss of a spouse who has built a void of sorts between a father and his young daughter. A daughter left to be wild, to wander inside her own adventure during the daylight hours spent best elsewhere. She has a natural affection for the sea, and no wonder, having learnt her own mother was hip-tied to the oceans – starting with the very ship which brought her passage to this world. Her father and mother had lived aboard ship whilst she was being carried in the womb, and in so doing, have left an etching of that faraway world on the daughter. Tabitha is not like her peers, her intuitive nature belies her age, but it is her connection to the natural world and her ingenuity of how she keeps her hours entertained that endeared me the most.

As she fell ill so suddenly on the arrival of her tenth birthday, it felt a bit unfair to Tabitha, a girl who lived as a magpie and a free spirit whose heart was tethered to the tides. Aching with pain too old for her own bones, she is crippled and coupled with yellow fever ravishing through her young spirit; without understanding the full measure of what the disease can take from her. Her father beside himself with anguish, knowing the full scope of how he’s on the brink of losing the second love of his life; the first was lost in childbirth. Her grandfather is hardened by stones cast against his lost daughter and the choices she made whilst she lived; never moving past his grief nor accepting the son-in-law and granddaughter as blessings to his elder years. A family caught in the centerfold of a life after a tragic death, spinning a bit as a churning tide in a storm tossed sea, never knowing how to set their sails or right their course.

The wickedness of yellow fever is that it starves the spirit from being at peace inside the body; it ravages the shell the soul inhabits with such a fierce determined mire as to shudder any who lay an eye on its victim. Young Tabitha has strength inside her out of love from her parents but she is caught inside of a vice clamped against her will. Smith paints no illusions of what having yellow fever is like for a young child; although writ by another writer I might have found myself a bit nausea reading the passages of Tabitha’s declining health, here I found only compassionate realism.

My heart was well and full by the time I shifted out of Part I and turnt the pages to begin Part II; thereupon I found a back-step into the life of Helen, aged ten years and the mother of Tabitha. It felt only fitting Smith would take us through the childhood of the mother – to draw a deeper connection between the child and father; yet perhaps even needle out a connection with the grandfather Asa. Asa is hardly approachable in the first half, his soul soured on the loss of Helen, and blinded by not having had the control over his daughter married. In this next half, we start to unearth how decidedly similar his life and the life of his son-in-law took a path of ill-fated stars.

The Story of Land and Sea knits and tucks itself into your being like a feather-stone sturgeon whose soul-driven maturity allows for a savory respite. Smith is a story-teller who garnishes your compass to point inside her narrative as if there were not even one time-clock outside the view of your eyes as your read her story. Time is an elusive mistress as you read the words she’s left behind – culling you further into where a father’s heart and love for his daughter takes them further away from shore. This is a story for those whose felt the salt in their eyes, welcomed the berth rocking through waves, and championed the sea as though it were a temptress of fortitude rather than of beguiling horror. Smith has writ such a bewitching debut novel, you cannot help but savour her style for words and the benefit of an old soul’s wisdom on humanity and the human heart.

The writing style of Katy Simpson Smith:

The title is a muse stimulating metaphor for the central heart of the story itself – for a gathering of days, hours, and memories of a living life; represented with such eloquence as to capture the hope inside us all. The craft of threading us through the present alongside the past in successive stories shared through flashback recollections is a humanistic nod towards grace out of sorrow. Smith whispers hope into her faith absent characters, guiding them towards the truth they do not want to accept and a peace only faith can restore. Smith’s deft hand for narrating this epically wrought nautical fiction lends itself amongst the shelves of classical fiction. She has stitched together such a conveyance of the human condition as if to give a legacy of how wrenching it is to live life forward without a sense of precognisant knowledge of the future.

Poetically stimulating with an earthy connective thread of the wisdom we all gain through the experiences our lives grant us as we live. Katy Simpson Smith is a story-teller who has graced us with a novel that stands on its own accord and will be talked about for quite a long while after its released. It etches into your conscienceness and it murmurs you to re-examine your own life and the greater purpose we all have whilst we’re here.


Approximatively 15 hours have passed since I consumed The Story of Land and Sea, and as this is a novel that soaks inside you wholly and true, it is a story that fevers itself into your innermost world of thought. It takes hours to process the words you’ve consumed, the legacy of the story you’ve devoured, and the heart of a soul-stirring narrative that bewitched your hours and captivated the stillness of your breath as you read.

My favourite sections of the novel are Part I and Part II; they are the equal halves of each other as you shift between mother and daughter. It is the latter half of the novel, coming full to stern in Part III that I struggled with accepting as the hours have dissolved off the clock. A nettling of discourse for me is how the story ends — the final chapters are almost disconnected to the previous, as there was a choice to take two paths; a fork if you will, and I felt it was the other path I would have preferred seeing explored. As I read the ARC and not the final copy of this novel, I am not even sure if my misgivings on the conclusion are valid; I’ll have to wait until my library orders a copy so I can cross-compare, however, what saddened me the most is how I felt redeemed in spirit at the end of The House Girl but I felt shattered inside my heart when I read the end of The Story of Land and Sea.

Portions of The House Girl floated into my mind’s eye as I was reading more about Moll in The Story of Land and Sea, and where Josephine found a measure of freedom and a sense of identity through redemption, I found Moll was not given as much credence. And, then what has settled over me is that I took this journey with a young girl, a grieving widow, and a mother all knitted together out of love and the buoyancy of life at sea verse the disconnected otherworld of living on land. The story is meant to bridge this family’s life and world to Moll’s life as a slave, but in the end I felt Moll needed more time to have her story reach the fullness she deserved.

I will be forevermore haunted by the story — it is one that soaks inside you at such a pace as to stop your breath from registering as your mind illuminates the words and lifts them into a visual realm of your own imagination. It is through doing so, the characters become tangible, etching of reality, and feel as though they truly have lived and are a part of your own experience.

Kindly read my review of The House Girl to understand what I am trying to say without having spoilt either story being read for the first time

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Katy Simpson Smith discusses her novel “The Story of Land and Sea” via HarperBooks

Inspired to Share: 

I was delighted to find out that the impetus to create this soul-stirring narrative originated in the fate of a young girl buried in a keg of rum. This is quite pivotal to the story because it is served as the author’s catalyst into the story as a whole, but it also points to how the measure of grief and sorrow can lead someone to purchase peace in how they present the dead to the grave. To capture a moment of mercy in death that they could not give a loved one in life.

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This blog tour stop was courtesy of TLC Book Tours:
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Comments make me smile! Let’s start a conversation! I appreciate your visit & look forward to your return! I do moderate the comment threads; do not worry if the comment is delayed in being seen! Drop back soon!

Reader Interactive Question:

This novel reaches into your innermost heart and mind, pulling you inside its depths and not wanting to let you go. Time escapes outside the hourglass and the characters warm their glow of life inside your imaginative eye – the setting is as palpable as the story itself – yet I am curious, as these stories are are to find as they are to nurture into being, what pulls you into their scope?

{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Story of Land and Sea”, author photograph, book synopsis and the tour badge were all provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Author Interview badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. The author video of the novel by Harper Books and the Audio Excerpt on SoundCloud had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

The ‘live reading’ tweets I shared as I read & reviewed “The Story of Land and Sea”:

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 2 September, 2014 by jorielov in 18th Century, A Father's Heart, Action & Adventure Fiction, ARC | Galley Copy, Audiobook, Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Extract, Bookish Films, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Editor's Note | Inside ARC, Family Drama, Family Life, Father-Daughter Relationships, Historical Fiction, Interviews Related to Content of Novel, Pirates and Swashbucklers, Revolutionary War Era, Single Fathers, Soundcloud, TLC Book Tours, War Drama

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4 responses to “+Blog Book Tour+ The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith

  1. This sounds like an amazing book! Before I continue raving I just want to compliment you, again, on how you craft these book tour posts, Jorie! They literally have everything you could want from info about the book, to teasers, to author into and I love the inclusion of the audiobook snippets! I have never been big on audiobooks because I love imagining voices for the characters, but this one and the one for The Ghost Bride are really good. So good they’re changing my mind!

    Back to ‘The Story of Land and Sea’! I am very partial to family-sagas and also have a love for the sea. I miss being close to water when I’m at University and could spend a whole day just sitting at the beach watching the waves play. So pretty much from the get go this book is hitting all the right buttons. The way you describe the characters also really makes me interested in them, especially Tabitha because she sounds so free and passionate. I wish I could’ve been a part of this blog tour! Where do you get all of these good books from? ;)

    Great post and review!
    Juli @ Universe in Words

  2. I am a HUGE fan of audiobooks so I’m glad to see you include the sample in your review. And I can certainly appreciate the appeal of hearing things pronounced before trying to figure them out yourself.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  3. Now I’m in trouble… I keep finding books that I feel I MUST READ NOW (this being one of them, thanks to your review and a few others’ reviews) — shoving ahead of all the others languishing on my shelves! The dilemma! The lack of hours in a day! ;-)

    How impressive that, despite the difficulty of reading due to dyslexia, you are a book worm! I love how you’ve been able to incorporate different media to make the reading experience that much more enjoyable and meaningful!

    • Good evening, Ms Fry,

      I absolutely *love!* your reaction to my book review – I always hoped a book which swept me inside its internal currents and left me a bit wanton for more would in turn inspire a new reader to pick it up themselves and see what I found inside! I am ever so thankful #IShall the chat led us to cross paths with each other; as in doing so, I helped you decide (along with the other readers) to read this particular novel a bit out of queue! Ooh, my yes! The hours in a day dissolve ever so quickly through our fingertips – even I, a book blogger with a full queue of books for review, book challenges languishing behind the scenes, and a big (rather HUGE) month-long science fiction fest arriving in November — I still find myself idling in the book isle whenever I am in a store which sells print books as a side gesture! Even tonight! lol We’re bookish – we get giddy by consuming the stories left behind for us to find. :)

      Yes, I fought to read & to enjoy how I read — I had parents who did not believe in allowing my learning difficulties with dyslexia slow me down or even dictate what I could or could not do. I am forever blessed tenfold due to their encouragement and their guidance in my childhood. My Mum was my first teacher and sadly, not many broached past what she already had instilled inside me – the greatest gift being a thirst for knowledge and a seeker mentality to always push forward & seek something new to explore, dissect, and understand. We all have strengths to work with and the way in which I learn has always been connected to visual learning. I think this is one reason I enjoy seeking out ways to incorporate ‘media’ portals to include with my reviews and book showcases.

      Scribd is a lifesaver for giving out a sampling but so is SoundCloud – I tend to alternate between the two especially this Summer as I have a newfound fondness for audiobooks! In the future, I’ll be listening & reading to books in tandem – until then, the excerpts give me an added joy to reading. I am thankful to hear that what I seek out to give myself a bit of extra joy in my individual posts is now extending out from my sphere and touching those who read my blog! Joy doubled is the best way joy is shared! Thank you for dropping by & leaving such a delightful comment — I do hope you’ll drop by again soon!

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