The House of Kingsley Merrick offers the contemporary reader the clipper ship kingdom of Cape Cod’s deep water mariners, the Civil War as seen from the seas-farer’s perspective, and the rise America’s “gilded age” as glimpsed in Waterford, on Cape Cod.
Kingsley is the grandson of Captain Elijah Merrick and his wife Molly Deems, whom we last saw facing ruin in This is the House. Due to the mistakes of his own parents, Kingsley is taunted by his social betters at school and ostracized by town’s establishment. His cousin, Julia, faces imprisonment in Boston’s middle class where her intelligence and talents will be unrecognized, these being “unladylike.”
For Julia, rescue hinges on inclusion in Boston’s upper class, where excellence is fostered in women. But her forced marriage to Kingsley creates a new prison for her – his mansion in the middle of town, which no self-respecting mariner or his family will enter.…until she brings her husband heel with a scheme that creates a Brahmin society right there in Waterford, and at the same time keeps him out of her bedroom.
“There are some unusual twists to the take of social climbers, and surprises continue to unfold until the last page. The morals and ethics of New Englanders in the mid 1800’s form a large part of the action, and careful research into Cape Cod history has enabled this author to give a ring of authenticity to this splendidly executed novel.”
“Dynastic tangles blaze at the heart of this splendid new saga set against the gradual decline of Cape Cod’s maritime trade.”
“The many thousands of readers who delighted in Deborah Hill’s deft mingling of New England history with the dreams and drama of her splendidly realized characters will find The House of Kingsley Merrick a surpassingly evocative novel that reveals her writing at the very top of her form.”
“For her second book, Deborah Hill concentrates her literary spotlights on three main characters…. with passages taking the reader directly into their thoughts and motivations. The story of the Merricks’ troubled marriage is played against the mores of New England in the 1860’s and of the North’s [post-Civil War] economy. That the peripheral characters are not detailed is in no way a drawback to this book – it is in this fashion that the author “stars” her principals in this drama, and it works well….
“This is a powerful novel…”
After completing This is the House 38 years ago, Deborah Hill turned to the next ambitious ancestor in her husband’s family who did indeed make a fortune in Australia, married his gifted cousin, and built a mansion on the site of the original homestead on Main Street. Published in 1978, The House of Kingsley Merrick met with critical acclaim; in this revised edition, Hill is again able realize a dream come true with this, the second of the Kingsland Series.