When Veronica married Guy, she did not expect that throughout twenty years of their marriage they would never establish roots anywhere. Guy is a carpenter, and he simply goes wherever the jobs are – as long as the work is in a coastal town, as both Veronica and Guy love the sea. Over the years, Veronica gives birth to a daughter, Simpson, but parenthood does not slow down the regular moves to new coastal towns over the years. After many years of constant moves, stressful change and stretched out finances, Veronica has had enough.
In a seemingly impulsive, desperate act of defiance, Veronica packs up her meager belongings into her car, as well as Simpson, and hits the road. Guy is out on one of his job-hunting ventures, and Veronica just knows that she has to put some space between herself and her husband. Veronica and Simpson drive to Whisper Mountain, Maryland, to the home of a very close friend of Veronica’s named Ernie (short for Ernestine). Veronica and Simpson move in with Ernie and their new life in Whisper Mountain begins, which forms the story of Daughters of the Sea.
Having recently graduated high school and having no real friends due to moving too many times over the years, Simpson’s strong will and mature sense help her adapt to life at Ernie’s house and in Whisper Mountain. Ernie herself could use some company, as she is elderly now and terminally ill with lung disease after years of heavy smoking. While her daughter is adapting nicely, Veronica is the one who is having trouble adjusting to a life that is nowhere near the ocean, and she spends several days either sleeping or in a fog, until she finally is able to carve out a daily routine of tending to Ernie’s vast vegetable garden (which Ernie harvests to sell her vegetables at her friend Lily’s stand).
Ernie’s neighbor, Wallace, is a strange sort of man who is a friend of Ernie’s in a neighborly sort of way. Wallace’s son, Owen, is in college and travels frequently to Whisper Mountain to pay his dad a visit (and to check on him). Owen’s regular visits branch into a chance meeting with Simpson, and the two feel a bond that neither can explain or ignore. Just as Simpson is finding happiness, Veronica is pining for Guy and is restless in Whisper Mountain – but she is also pulled to take care of Ernie, who is deteriorating daily.
Daughters of the Sea is a book about the lives of Veronica, Simpson and Ernie and the challenges they face individually and together in Whisper Mountain. All of the characters are well developed, and I enjoyed reading reading about each of them as they discovered where life would take them next. Daughters of the Sea lags a bit in the middle, but it picks up speed toward the end, and this is the type of book where the journey, not the destination, is key.