Daughter of Neptune by Theresa Wisner is a memoir that might be called a coming-of-age story, but most stories of that genre stop at an age below thirty. Not a spoiler, it seems that Theresa finally does come of age and her journey was not a typical one that we would find in fiction. A clue to the success of her journey can be found in this annotation on the cover just under the main title: “… found at sea.”
This memoir has three stories. The first, stretching from the front cover to the back cover, is the story of Theresa’s relationship with her father. A warm relationship had many hugs until the age of eight, something changed in their relationship and Theresa was never sure what it was. She would spend the rest of the life that involved both her and her father in doing things that she hoped would attract praise from her father. Theresa had a big family with many siblings and a loving mother. Theresa reports in her memoir where these other relatives are but it is her father that she writes about.
The second story is Theresa’s battle with alcohol and her acceptance of the fact that she is an alcoholic. She tells of her experiments with drugs in a very casual way. She could take them or leave them. It was alcohol that threatened to dominate her completely. Yes, she went through a 28-day program. Yes, she did some backsliding. I found her accounts of increasing dependence, outright blackouts, and struggles to maintain a program very compelling and truthful. That might mean I can empathize with her. There is a vivid account of a decapitated teapot that strikes home.
The third story is about the sea and a life at sea, whether fishing, working as a cook, or working as a deckhand. In doing all these activities, she was working in a man’s world. Again, she was looking for approval and praise from her father, who had worked as a fisherman. This was an area of new information for me. It seems there are two distinct classes of workers who crew ships in any capacity. One level has something Theresa referred to as a z-class worker. This was a worker who worked predictable hours, received a predictable wage, and had protection from a union or guild. Everyone else worked for a captain of a ship under conditions that could be as harsh as that described in the movie Mutiny on the Bounty. Her first permanent job was with a person who was almost a family friend. She literally learned the ropes. Her second job had a captain who was a true alcoholic. Her third job was with a captain who was a miser. I was surprised that Theresa was surprised when she found out most of the crew of the miser’s ship were from Nebraska or Kansas and had no maritime experience. Finally, she worked on a ship that conformed to z-class standards and that experience supplied the title of this memoir. Events leading up to her becoming a Daughter of Neptune are at first unimaginable and then humorous.
This 160-page novel will be released on Amazon on 14 March; it is available as a pre-order for USD 0.99. Although I read it as an Advanced Reader Copy, I also pre-ordered it because I found the level of English suitable for my English as a Second Language learners. I read it in one session. As Theresa went through her early experiences with harsh captains, the story was a page-turner. There was something a bit off in the formatting with chapter headings that started in the middle of the page. Hopefully, this will have been corrected in the copy that Amazon sells. For that reason, formatting, I gave this novel four Amazon stars.