A Captain for Laura Rose by Stephanie Grace Whitson {book review}

A Captain for Laura Rose by Stephanie Grace Whitson {book review}


Laura Rose White’s late father taught her everything he knew about piloting a Missouri River steamboat. He even named their boat after her.

Despite that, it seems that Laura will forever be a “cub pilot” to her brother Joe, because in 1867, a female riverboat captain is unheard of.

That is, until tragedy strikes and Laura must make the two month journey from St. Louis to Fort Benton and back in order to save her family’s legacy, her home, and the only life she’s ever known.

The only way for her to overcome the nearly insurmountable odds is with the help of her brother’s disreputable friend Finn MacKnight, a skilled pilot with a terrible reputation.

Laura loathes having to accept MacKnight as her co-pilot, especially when she learns she must also provide passage for his two sisters.

Straight-laced Fiona has a fear of water, and unpredictable Adele seems much too comfortable with the idea of life in the rough and tumble environment of the untamed river and the men who ply it.

Though they are thrown together by necessity, this historic journey may lead Laura and the MacKnights to far more than they ever expected.

My Reaction:  I have read a good number of Stephanie’s books. This is one of her more recent ones. I have varying opinions of her books. Most of the way through this book I kept thinking how ‘stupid’ the story is, to be quite honest. I didn’t like any of the characters or what they were doing, nor the plot. I thought that Laura and MacKnight were the main characters, whose points of view would dominate. I was disappointed that MacKnight’s sister Fiona was taking up so much of the story. She got on my nerves. (I see  Almonzo’s sister on Little House when I think of Fiona.)

There didn’t seem to be a protagonist beside the river, which lacked description. Laura was the hero, but in a very subtle way. My favorite ‘character’ was Logjam, the dog! But I’m getting ahead of myself. I also do not care for the manner in which the faith element was planted into the story. I much prefer a subtler, more steady element, with a strong character, which in this story was Laura’s mother (trying not to spoil). I also like the strong likable characters to be living…

Printing entire pages of Scripture and/or theology is a turn off to those who do not believe, and will be skipped over. Even to those who believe, deviating from the story line detracts from the Scriptural message in a work of fiction. Infusing it into the story itself lends strength to the message. If it is internalized by the character, it is easy for the reader to internalize as well. Fiction can teach, not simply entertain. I believe the author could have taken license with one character enough to bring this to light.

If my complaints seem lame it is because when I read the Author’s Note at the end of the book, it all made sense. These are real people, most of them. These things really happened. The author was retelling history more than fictionalizing, and truth is indeed stranger than fiction. Thus most of my points dissolve in the interest of preserving history, except for the fact that the characters were not likable in my opinion, nor clear in their relationship to God. Conclusion: I didn’t care for the book as much as I would have liked, but I respect the effort of the author in preserving this piece of Americana.

My Goodreads review:  A Captain for Laura Rose by Stephanie Grace Whitson
My rating:  3 stars 

About the Author:  

Award-winning, best-selling novelist Stephanie Grace Whitson began playing with imaginary friends (i.e., writing fiction) when an abandoned pioneer cemetery near the Whitson’s country home provided not only a hands-on history lesson for her four home schooled children, but also a topic of personal study.

In 2014, Whitson celebrated her twentieth year as a published novelist. When not writing or researching, she enjoys reading, quilting, spoiling her grandchildren and/or Kona Kai (the golden retriever), and riding her motorcycle named Kitty.

View all my Goodreads reviews


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