Historical novelist Michael Parker is next up at USCB Lunch With Author Series
When you are a ‘come yah’ to the South Carolina Lowcountry invariably you’re given a list of must-read books of history, environment and culture. The USCB Lunch With Author Series is adding the new historical novel, The Watery Part of the World by Michael Parker, who will be guest author on Wednesday, March 14th at the Country Club of Hilton Head.
In a lush feat of historical speculation, Parker has created a wholly original world from two known facts: (1) Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of controversial and brilliant Vice President Aaron Burr, and wife of Governor Joseph Alston of South Carolina, disappeared in 1813 while en route by schooner from South Carolina to New York; and (2) in 1970, two elderly white women and one black man were the last townspeople to leave a small barrier island off the coast of North Carolina.
A few other facts about Theodosia Burr Alston are: (1) that she was a child prodigy who spoke Latin, French, German, and read Greek by the age of twelve; and (2) her formative years were designed to make her a brilliant, independent, highly educated and freethinking woman in an age that valued none of those traits in females.
In his book, Michael Parker imagines that Theodosia survived a pirate attack off the coast of North Carolina and lived out a long, conflicted life on one of the barrier islands. The Watery Part of the World — that evocative title comes from Moby Dick — is an emotionally acute tale about a brilliant woman of privilege who must suddenly use her wits to avoid dismemberment, rape and starvation.
From Theodosia’s capture at sea, to the passionate lives of her great-great-great-granddaughters, to the tender story of the black man who cares for them all his days, this is an inspired novel about love, trust, and the often tortuous bonds of family and community. It’s a tale of pirates and slaves, treason and treasures, madness and devotion, that takes place on a tiny island battered by storms, infested with mosquitoes, and cut off from the world—as difficult to get to as it is impossible to leave for those who call it home.
Michael Parker will share background stories on Wednesday, March 14th at the Country Club of Hilton Head. The Lunch With Author Series is sponsored by the University of South Carolina Beaufort Continuing Education. Reservations are necessary and can be made at 843-521-4147 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The all-inclusive price is $42 and lunch is served at noon.