How does one go from a suburban matriarch to a pirate queen? Saphora Warren makes the transition in Patricia Hickman’s contemporary novel “The Pirate Queen.”
Saphora has what might be considered “it all” by some. Her husband Bender has a thriving plastic surgery practice. Her three children are grown and on their own. She lives in a magazine showplace of a house in an upscale lakefront community. Yet she plans to leave because there is one aspect of her life she can no longer tolerate: her husband is a philanderer and many of his women are in her own social circle.
Her careful scheme to escape unnoticed unravels when Bender comes home early with startling news. He’s been diagnosed with cancer and expects Saphora to provide him the same level of devoted care she’s always given. Her planned getaway to solitude becomes a journey to hospitals, tests and medical consultations.
Hickman takes us inside the heart of a woman caught in an emotional storm. She gives us insights into grief, friendship, gains and losses through a few months In the life of the woman who becomes a “pirate queen,” albeit without cutlass and jolly roger. The people who come into Saphora’s life include an artistic neighbor who digs holes by moonlight, a boy with AIDS and his adoptive mother, a disable pastor and a small seaside town filled with delightful, caring characters.
Set in the sailing community of Oriental, NC, “The Pirate Queen” explores the meaning of commitment and caring with many metaphors taken from the sea. As Hickman describes the changing view from Saphora’s vantage point near the Neuse River, we understand the internal changes as well. Saphora and Bender have many snarls to unravel as his illness progresses. Both of them must grow and lean on a strength greater than their own.
“The Pirate Queen” is a Christian novel, but not a preachy one. As the characters learn and grow, we grow with them. The book offers a rediscovery of the things that change a group of people into a family, whether through healing old wounds or touching new lives. I found it almost hypnotic in its depth of feeling.
Readers who like Debbie Macomber will find a similar heart in “The Pirate Queen.” The inspiring story will appeal to fans of Nicholas Sparks. With its twists and turns, the story engages from the first page. I enjoyed “The Pirate Queen” and look forward to reading more of Hickman’s work.
‘The Pirate Queen’ by Patricia Hickman