Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman
Publication Date: January 11, 2022 Regal House Publishing Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook; 334 pages
Genre: Historical / Literary / Epic
**Shortlisted for the Chaucer Book Award** OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a historical epic of one woman’s survival in a time when the wilderness is still wild, heresy is publicly punishable, and being independent is worse than scorned—it is a death sentence. At the onset of King William’s War between French and English settlers in 1689 New England, Ruth Miner is accused of witchcraft for the murder of her parents and must flee the brutality of her town. She stows away on the ship of the only other person who knows her innocence: an audacious sailor—Owen—bound to her by years of attraction, friendship, and shared secrets. But when Owen’s French ancestry finds him at odds with a violent English commander, the turmoil becomes life-or-death for the sailor, the headstrong Ruth, and the cast of Quakers, Pequot Indians, soldiers, highwaymen, and townsfolk dragged into the fray. Now Ruth must choose between sending Owen to the gallows or keeping her own neck from the noose. Steeped in historical events and culminating in a little-known war on pre-American soil, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a story of early feminism, misogyny, arbitrary rulings, persecution, and the treatment of outcasts, with parallels still mirrored and echoed in today’s society. The debut novel will appeal to readers of Paulette Jiles, Alexander Chee, Hilary Mantel, James Clavell, Bernard Cornwell, TaraShea Nesbit, Geraldine Brooks, Stephanie Dray, Patrick O’Brian, and E. L. Doctorow.
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“An absorbing, painstakingly researched read that, like the sea itself, mirrors the beauty, cruelty, enormity, baseness, and wonder of human nature. It is chilling that Angstman’s debut novel set in seventeenth-century New England captures the horrors that continue to plague contemporary America, particularly with regard to imperialism and patriarchy. It is heart-swelling that, in these pages and in life, the best of humankind resists and endures. I’ll remember this book as a historical tale woven with wry humor, striking detail, lush prose, daring characters, and a belief in glorious possibilities.” —Ethel Rohan, author of IN THE EVENT OF CONTACT and THE WEIGHT OF HIM “Rich in deeply researched detail, and peopled by complex characters, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a fascinating story that is bound to entrance readers of historical fiction.” —Kathleen Grissom, author of THE KITCHEN HOUSE and GLORY OVER EVERYTHING “From the squalor, prejudice, and violence of seventeenth-century America, Leah Angstman has summoned to life the most extraordinary young woman. Ruth Miner insists on surviving, building a life, and being true to her odd independent self, despite the whole world seeing her as worthless filth. Angstman creates a hypnotically real and brutal world and then manages to infuse it with humor and beauty and a moving tale of love. The reader will follow Ruth Miner anywhere, and be the richer for it.” —Heather O’Neill, author of WHEN WE LOSE OUR HEADS “With OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, Leah Angstman reveals herself as a brave new voice in historical fiction. With staggering authenticity, Angstman gives us a story of America before it was America—an era rife with witch hunts and colonial intrigue and New World battles all but forgotten in our history books and popular culture. This is historical fiction that speaks to the present, recalling the bold spirits and cultural upheavals of a nation yet to be born.” —Taylor Brown, author of PRIDE OF EDEN, GODS OF HOWL MOUNTAIN, and THE RIVER OF KINGS “Steeped in lush prose, authentic period detail, and edge-of-your-seat action, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a rollicking good read. Leah Angstman keeps the story moving at a breathtaking pace, and she knows more 17th-century seafaring language and items of everyday use than you can shake a stick at. The result is a compelling work of romance, adventure, and historical illumination that pulls the reader straight in.” —Rilla Askew, author of FIRE IN BEULAH, THE MERCY SEAT, and KIND OF KIN “Lapidary in its research and lively in its voice, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA by Leah Angstman is a rollicking story, racing along with wind in its sails. Though her tale unfolds hundreds of years in America’s past, Ruth Miner is the kind of high-spirited heroine whose high adventures haul you in and hold you fast.” —Kathleen Rooney, author of LILLIAN BOXFISH TAKES A WALK and CHER AMI AND MAJOR WHITTLESEY “Leah Angstman has written the historical novel that I didn’t know I needed to read. OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is set in an oft-forgotten time in the brutal wilds of pre-America that is so vividly and authentically drawn, with characters that are so alive and relevant, and a narrative so masterfully paced and plotted, that Angstman has performed the miracle of layering the tumultuous past over our troubled present to gift us a sparkling new reality.” —Kevin Catalano, author of WHERE THE SUN SHINES OUT and DELETED SCENES AND OTHER STORIES “OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a fascinating book, the kind of historical novel that evokes its time and place so vividly that the effect is just shy of hallucinogenic. I enjoyed it immensely.” —Scott Phillips, author of THE ICE HARVEST, THE WALKAWAY, COTTONWOOD, and HOP ALLEY “OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a meticulously researched novel that mixes history, love story, and suspense. Watching Angstman’s willful protagonist, Ruth Miner, openly challenge the brutal world of 17th-century New England, with its limiting ideas about gender, race, and science, was a delight.” —Aline Ohanesian, author of ORHAN’S INHERITANCE “Leah Angstman is a gifted storyteller with a poet’s sense of both beauty and darkness, and her stunning historical novel, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, establishes her as one of the most exciting young novelists in the country. Angstman plunges the reader into a brilliantly realized historical milieu peopled by characters real enough to touch. And in Ruth Miner, we are introduced to one of the most compelling protagonists in contemporary literature, a penetratingly intelligent, headstrong woman who is trying to survive on her wits alone in a Colonial America that you won’t find in the history books. A compulsive, vivid read that will change the way you look at the origins of our country, Leah Angstman’s OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA announces the arrival of a preternatural talent.” —Ashley Shelby, author of MURI and SOUTH POLE STATION “Rich, lyrical, and atmospheric, with a poet’s hand and a historian’s attention to detail. In OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, Leah Angstman creates an immersive world for readers to get lost in and a fascinating story to propel them through it. A thoroughly engaging and compelling tale.” —Steph Post, author of HOLDING SMOKE, MIRACULUM, and WALK IN THE FIRE “It’s a rare story that makes you thankful for having read and experienced it. It’s rarer still for a story to evoke so wholly, so powerfully, another place and time as to make you thankful for the gifts that exist around you, which you take for granted. OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a book rich with misery, yet its characters are indefatigable; they yearn, despite their troubles, for victories personal and societal. Leah Angstman’s eye is keen, and her ability to transport you into America’s beginnings is powerful. With the raw ingredients of history, she creates a story both dashing and pensive, robust yet believable. From an unforgiving time, Angstman draws out a tale of all things inhuman, but one that reminds us of that which is best in all of us.” —Eric Shonkwiler, author of ABOVE ALL MEN and 8TH STREET POWER AND LIGHT “A challenging, exquisitely researched, epic, and stunning work of historical fiction that we don’t expect but definitely need, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA magnificently captures the color of its time and settings. Angstman is an old soul who writes with the same flair that Hawthorne displayed in The Scarlet Letter and Jack London in The Sea-Wolf. She paints a past America without concealing its flaws, creating a lucid, masterfully crafted narrative and a fascinating fusion of history, intrigue, adventure, action, and romance that will immediately pull you in from the very first page. Angstman is a powerful writer, showing us bold imagery, nail-biting conflicts, and history that comes alive in the paragraphs, including banned languages and interesting dialects. You may forget you’re reading a book and feel like you’re living with the characters. The pace is perfect, and the action is enough to make you hold your breath.” —Readers’ Favorite (five-starred review) “A sweeping tale of intrigue, romance, and feminist power amidst the tumult of colonial North America. …Historical fiction, romance, and action-lovers alike will find something to enjoy in OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA. Keeping readers on their toes with ever-changing scenery and vibrant characters, Leah Angstman has recreated British Colonial America with a modern twist… [Her] story will beguile and compel readers, leaving them waiting for Angstman’s next book.” —Independent Book Review “This book moved me in ways that I didn’t expect. …The deeply researched and historically authentic world is vivid and immersive, and it captivated me from the first pages.” —One Book More “Ruth is an unforgettable strong woman with the independence of Kya Clark from Where the Crawdads Sing and the fortitude of Demelza from the Poldark series. I wanted to know whether Ruth survived and, if so, how she conquered the challenges she faced as an orphaned young woman in a harsh, patriarchal environment…Angstman uses a broad vocabulary, brutal descriptions, and colloquialisms (i.e. God’s teeth!) to immerse you in the time period [and] the characters were phenomenal. I recommend this book for anyone who loves historical fiction or stories about strong women.” —Book Picks and Pics
Owen rested a finger over Ruth’s mouth. “It’ll be our secret. Like everything between us.”
The touch didn’t go unnoticed by the town’s Dutch women. One of them pipped like a surprised mouse. Another tapped the tip of a butter churner onto the side of her cart like a schoolmarm getting the attention of unruly pupils. The Dutch-Reformed, with their identical broad-brimmed, low-crowned hats, stood in a line outside the meetinghouse and shook their heads in unison. Ruth collected herself under their judgment, but the onlookers didn’t faze Owen.
“Why, hello, ladies.” He removed his hat and set the barrel of oats on the ground next to their carts. “Looks like you got some fine parsnips here and, I must say, a deft green thumb to keep them alive during the frost. Almighty impressive.”
The women blushed.
“How much for a parsnip today?” he asked.
“For ye,” Mrs. Pieterszoon fair hummed, “there be no cost.” She cast a superior smirk at Ruth, who scowled in return. To Owen, she added, “Do tell your father good day for me, will ye?”
“I will, indeed.” He lifted the fattest parsnip he could find in the cart and nodded. “He will be most delighted to hear it.”
Mrs. Janszoon said hastily, “Ye can have two parsnips from me, dear boy, and do tell your father that I gived you twice the bounty as Betje.” The woman piled two plump roots into Owen’s hand.
“Oh come, Saskia!” Betje Pieterszoon retorted. “Don’t listen to her. Take another parsnip from me, too, Mr. Townsend.”
“Thank you ever so kindly, ladies. Shall we make it three apiece?” He took two more roots without waiting for a reply, pressing the six dirty parsnips against his chest in one arm and squatting to lift the oats in the other. “The captain will be delighted. Have your lovely selves a lovely day.” As he stepped away from the carts, he dropped the six parsnips into Ruth’s apron, avoiding her disgusted glare. “There. I got you six parsnips and had not a time of it. Heaven knows what you thought was so hard about that.”
He walked her to Copernicus, then helped Ruth strap the stolen material bundles, copper kettle, and down blankets across the horse’s back. His eyes settled on a branded W that marked the animal’s hindquarters. A breath left him sharply. He knew the derogatory brand wasn’t a chosen monogram and was the reason Ruth still owned the valuable horse that could otherwise have purchased her years’ worth of comfort, could she only find a buyer of little enough superstition not to consider the beast cursed.
“I still can’t believe you rode him to town.”
“I can’t spend all day getting here just to return home empty-handed. There is naught faster than a good horse.”
“My ship is faster than a horse.”
“Impracticalities excluded,” she laughed, unroping Copernicus, then walking, the three of them, back toward the marsh. “I can’t very well boat across these saltmarshes, now can I?”
“I spoke nothing of a boat. Your horse is faster than a boat.”
“Ah, boat, ship: when will you ever get over that nuance?”
“When you’ve finally corrected it.”
About the Author
Leah Angstman is a historian and transplanted Michigander living in Boulder. OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, her debut novel of King William’s War in 17th-century New England, is forthcoming from Regal House in January 2022. Her writing has been a finalist for the Saluda River Prize, Cowles Book Prize, Able Muse Book Award, Bevel Summers Fiction Prize, and Chaucer Book Award, and has appeared in Publishers Weekly, L.A. Review of Books, Nashville Review, Slice, and elsewhere. She serves as editor-in-chief for Alternating Current and The Coil magazine and copyeditor for Underscore News, which has included editing partnerships with ProPublica. She is an appointed vice chair of a Colorado historical commission and liaison to a Colorado historic preservation committee.
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