From the Amazon Charts and Washington Post bestselling author of True Places comes a disarming and emotional novel about a family in distress and a daughter’s mission to keep it from going under.
Chesapeake Bay, 1980. Eighteen-year-old Verity Vergennes is the captain of the USS Nepenthe, and her seven younger siblings are her crew. The ship—an oyster boat transformed into a make-believe destroyer—is the heart of the Vergennes family, a place both to play and to learn responsibility. But Verity’s had it with being tied to the ship and secretly applies to a distant college. If only her parents could bear to let her go.
Maeve and Arthur Vergennes already suffered one loss when, five years earlier, their eldest son, Jude, stormed out and never returned. Now Maeve is pregnant again and something’s amiss. Verity yearns to follow her dreams, but how can she jump ship now? The problem, and perhaps the answer, lies with Jude.
When disaster strikes and the family unravels, Verity must rally her sibling crew to keep the Nepentheand all it symbolizes afloat. Sailing away from home, she discovers, is never easy—not if you ever hope to find your way back.
“This richly-drawn and insightful story demonstrates an exceptionally deep understanding of family relationships.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Families, like ships at sea, sometimes founder on hidden rocks and begin to break apart. Which is exactly what happens to the Vergennes family in Sonja Yoerg’s luminous The Family Ship. Only a heart of stone would be immune to the charm of the Vergennes children, all nine of them. Yoerg offers this large, disparate crew to the reader with the wisdom and compassion of a consummate storyteller. And she tops off the tale with one of the most exciting finales I’ve read in years. I recommend this book with my whole heart.” —William Kent Krueger, New York Times bestselling author of This Tender Land
“With both wit and wonder, Sonja Yoerg navigates The Family Ship through choppy waters. This novel is completely immersive and highlights the enduring power of story in both our lives and our families. Yoerg’s prose and imagination are the strong currents that bring this fabulous tale to life.” —Patti Callahan, New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis
“Sonja Yoerg’s The Family Ship is a fearless, timeless story of a family in crisis. Join the Vergennes family on the shores of the Chesapeake and you’ll be rewarded with an emotionally charged page-turner of a story, but also with a cast of beautifully rendered characters who each will find a different way into your heart. Rising tides of grief, hope, and loyalty will sweep you away!” —Kelly Harms, Washington Post bestselling author of The Overdue Life of Amy Byler
Q & A with Sonja ~
Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.
First, huge thanks to Jill for inviting me to chat! It’s always a pleasure to meet new readers,especially if they are friends of Jill.
My first career was an animal behaviorist. I studied learning in blue jays, kangaroo rats, and hyenas, among other creatures. Writing had always come easily for me and immediately after I left academia, I wrote a non-fiction book about animal intelligence, Clever As a Fox. Years later, I became a novelist almost by accident, having put aside a memoir I was working on and literally googling “How to Write a Novel.” I wrote my debut, House Broken, in five months, then spent longer than that finding an agent, who sold it pretty quickly to Penguin Random House. In the subsequent six years, I’ve published six novels. What a ride!
What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
If you take a look at my Instagram account, you’ll see that my love for books is completely overshadowed by my obsession with growing food and cooking it. When we moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia several years ago, I could finally have a garden as large as I pleased, and it is very large indeed! My other obsession is traveling—when there is not a pandemic raging. My husband and I share an adventurous spirit and love nothing more than to hike the world. I guess you could say I’m a nomadic homebody.
Do you have a go-to first reader after you feel your manuscript is ready?
My husband. He’s an avid reader and is unfailingly enthusiastic about my projects. Luckily for our marriage, he is also largely complimentary. I usually get feedback on my fresh manuscript from two or three trusted writers before sending it to my editor, but for The Family Ship, I skipped the critique partners. With six POVs, it was a complex and lengthy undertaking, and I just wanted to get it off my desk. It was risky, but it worked out just fine. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that every book is different.
Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?
My favorite scenes tend to be ensemble pieces, usually later in the book. Most of the main characters are present, and the tensions are high. The way the dialogue and the action ricochets around is exciting for me, and those scenes tend to write themselves, as if everything I know about the characters and the story is there on the head of a pin.
Because The Family Ship is about a family of eleven, there are many ensemble scenes. It was a real challenge to orchestrate those scenes without overcomplicating them.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans? The last year has packed a wallop, but there is nevertheless so much to be grateful for. We still have books, which means we still value stories, and lives, and each other. It’s something to hold onto, and to cherish. Thanks for reading my stories, and for sharing them.
To connect with Sonja ~
To purchase this book: bit.ly/thefamilyship
book trailer: https://www.youtube.
Link for Goodreads (100 e-book giveaway - all of February: https://www.goodreads.
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