“I knew it was the ocean there, beneath the blue. I had never seen it in my life, and my heart began to beat faster in anticipation. I took a deep breath of the salty air, picked up my skirts, and started to run. I ran the way that I used to run when I was nine years old, when nothing mattered but the day on the plantation.” Diann Ducharme, The Outer Banks House
The Outer Banks House by Diann Ducharme was published in June of 2010 and is 291 pages. I found it in an independent book store, Quartermoon Books, in Topsail Island, North Carolina. It is a story set in Nags Head in 1868, and I had the pleasure of reading it while on vacation at the North Carolina coast.
Three years after the Civil War, seventeen-year-old Abigail Sinclair and her former slave-owning planter family spend the summer in Nags Head exploring new opportunities for business. Abigail finds herself immediately captivated by the primitive island setting, much to the dismay of her stiff, formal mother. When her father hires Benjamin Whimble as an island guide to show him the best places for hunting and fishing he soon learns the young man wishes to better himself by learning to read. He forces Abigail to teach Benjamin, much to her dismay, and the two unexpectedly fall in love. Abby’s father’s help of Benjamin, however, takes a sinister turn when he wishes to use the young man for his evil KKK dealings. Benjamin and Abigail find themselves in the middle of a terrible conspiracy that tests their love and threatens to destroy all they hold dear.
It gives me such pleasure to discover a book I’ve never heard of and read it in its setting. Every time I opened the pages of The Outer Banks House I fell back through time to the primitive beaches of Nags Head before the great rush of tourists. I enjoyed learning the history of the settlement and of Roanoke Island, and the moving stories of the freed slaves. Ducharme brilliantly depicts the growth of Abigail as a spoiled plantation owner’s daughter to a woman of character and understanding.
If you enjoy early American history in the post-War South or reading about the North Carolina coast you will love this book. I highly recommend The Outer Banks House.