Review: The Last Sailor by Sarah Anne Johnson

Title: The Last Sailor by Sarah Anne Johnson
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Historical, Fiction
Length: 280 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the author of The Lightkeeper’s Wife comes a poignant and powerful historical novel about grief, redemption, and brotherhood set on the shores of Cape Cod.

Cape Cod, 1898: All that Nathaniel Boyd wants is to be left alone. His hopes of marriage died years ago, not long after the storms and the seas and the sails took away his youngest brother. He’d rather be in the marshes of Cape Cod, with their predictable rhythms and no emotion. The Cape doesn’t blame him for the accident.

The other Boyd brother, Finn, dives headlong into his fish trading company, trying to prove something to himself. When their father asks the brothers to sail a schooner down from Boston to their harbor village, he didn’t expect them to bring back a young girl fleeing her home, much less a girl who slips off the boat and nearly drowns. The Boyd men take Rachel to the nearest home to the harbor—that of Nathaniel’s first love, Meredith.

As Rachel’s recovery brings Nathaniel back into Meredith’s world, nothing will be the same. And when their father dies and upends the world as they know it, Finn spins into a violent rage. Nathaniel will be forced to sail his own ship, taking command of his family and of his future.

For fans of Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris and Lost Boy Found by Kirsten Alexander, The Last Sailor is the painful, but hopeful story of two boys scarred by the loss of their brother, and the men they know they must become.


The Last Sailor by Sarah Anne Johnson is a heartfelt historical novel of family, healing and love.

Nathaniel Boyd Sr. has high expectations of his sons Nathaniel and Phinneas “Finn”.  Ten years ago, the death of his youngest son, Jacob, devastated their family.  In the intervening years, Nathaniel Sr. has become even more successful in business but his relationships with Nathaniel and Finn are strained.  He continues to hold out hope Nathaniel will finally take up the reins of his businesses. At the same time, Nathaniel Sr. continues to dismiss Finn’s requests to help him begin a new business. After convincing his sons travel to Boston and sail back in an associate’s schooner, all of their lives take startling turns.

Nathaniel retreated after Jacob’s death. He broke off his engagement to his childhood sweetheart Meredith. He then moved onto the marsh and spends most of his time by himself. Nathaniel is content to earn enough money to live on and he sells fish to Finn. His relationship with Finn is strained and their only interactions take place at Finn’s fish shop. Nathaniel rarely sees his father due to the pressure to return home and join Nathaniel Sr.’s businesses.   He reluctantly agrees to accompany Finn to Boston and he is very uneasy when his brother agrees to bring a stranger on board the schooner.

Finn is married with three young children.  His marriage is faltering under the stress of his long hours at work. He is constantly trying to prove himself to his father and he is resentful of his dad’s refusal to help him with his dream of owning a fishing fleet. Everything becomes even more complicated after Finn takes on seventeen year old Rachel as a passenger on the schooner he and Nathaniel are sailing home.

Rachel is eager to start a new life after escaping from her miserable home with her father.  She is enjoying her journey on the schooner when the trip takes a decidedly dangerous turn. Safely rescued but injured,  Rachel is nursed back to health by Meredith.  During her recovery, she delights in spending time with Meredith and Nathaniel, whose love has not waned during their years apart. After leaving Meredith’s house, Rachel tires of Finn’s refusal to return her property. Rachel’s final altercation with him is just the beginning of his rage-filled and increasingly violent attacks on those around him.

The Last Sailor is a family drama that is quite engrossing. The characters are well-developed with all too human frailties. The setting is richly detailed and springs vibrantly to life. The storyline is engaging and flows at an even pace. With a few unanticipated twists and turns, Sarah Anne Johnson brings this deeply affecting historical novel to a very satisfying conclusion.

Comments Off on Review: The Last Sailor by Sarah Anne Johnson

Filed under Fiction, Historical, Rated B, Review, Sarah Anne Johnson, Sourcebooks Landmark, The Last Sailor

Comments are closed.