“The Fiddler’s Gun” by A.S. Peterson
“The Fiddler’s Gun” is the debut novel of author A.S. Peterson. For me, it is a story within a story.
From my first contact with Phinea “Fin” Button, I knew we were connected. I must admit that I met her through her “Letters to Peter” when I was lead to ‘The Fiddler’s Gun” home page; first journeying through “The Rabbit Room“, a site for a group of writers, singer/songwriters, artists, and folks of that persuasion. A.S. “Pete” Peterson was one of many contributors to this site that was founded by his brother, storyteller/ singer/songwriter Andrew Peterson. What caught my attention as I ran down the list of writers bios, was the fact that Peterson was also a shipwright. Being from the coast of Maine, this was familiar territory for me. Once I read his “blurb” , I jumped right onto the link for “The Fiddler’s Gun. ” That was it for me. Now the funny thing that I have to share (and I do this at my own expense) is that when I first started reading about the “Saltzburger Society” and some other historical aspects of Fins “history”, I believed it! Of course I hadn’t yet gotten to the part about “boot snuffling ”. To Pete’s credit ( we had exchanged a couple e-mails with me expounding about letters and history) he handled this situation in a very gentlemanly way, through a general post, in case there were others out there that took idiot pills on a regular basis. Needless to say, I have been laughing over it ever since. Also to his credit, this set me on a path to rediscover the location of my old Friendship Sloop, “Ladyship” that I had eventually lost track of after I sold her years ago. (More on this in another post)
When I learned that “The Fiddler’s Gun” was actually a novel that Peterson was writing, I was really excited. I could see that Fin was somewhat of a kindred spirit in a way that actually I find hard to describe. For one, when I was twenty-five I actually “ran off” and went to sea with pretty much my clothes on my back and seventy-five dollars in my pocket, headed for the Caribbean. Now I hadn’t killed any red-coats, but I was going to become a boat Captain, and the rest of the world be…..well, you know. Adventurous, yes. Downright fool-hardiness, absolutely!
The other aspect of this wonderful adventure that drew me in is the time period of the story. I love history and have been involved in re-enacting for this time period as well as making clothing for seventeenth and eighteenth century re-enactors. What’s not to love about any of it, I ask you? All of this being said, on to “The Fiddler’s Gun“.
“The trouble with Phineas Michael Button began the day that she was born.”
The story of Phinea ”Fin” Button begins ignominiously. As a girl-that-should -have been-a-boy, born into a family of twelve daughters, her fate was sealed. She was deposited at the orphanage in the town of Ebenezer, Georgia, run by the Baab sisters.
The characters that are given us in Hilde and her sister Carmeline are treasures. Hilde, (the Attila the Hun-ess of the two) is just what you would expect of a spinster of Germanic descent in the seventeen-hundreds; always quivering in some kind of righteous indignation (in her case, what quivered was her nose). Carmeline, on the other hand was more concerned with nothing getting in-between her and her vittles. As official headmistress of the orphanage she gave way to long-winded speeches and expanding her already corpulent body.
Enter a feisty red-haired girl-that -should-have-been-a-boy. From the get-go, Phinea lived up to the name that would have been hers had she cooperated: Phineas. We meet her at a time when she is most at home duking it out with the boys and Sister Hilde’s nose is in a constant state of quivering exasperation. She wants to make her a young lady, of course and Fin is having none of it. The most important person in Fin’s life is Peter LaMee. He is the quiet and steady presence to Fin’s fiery and impetuous nature and holds a special piece of her heart. Since her tongue and temper are her worst enemies, she is always in need of escape of the consequences of her behavior. Her place of refuge other than Peter is in the bell tower of the church at the orphanage.
” She settled into the cleft of the bell tower and considered swatting the dirt off her clothes. She decided against it, solely for Hilde’s sake, and looked out over the walls. The vast pine and oak forests of southern Georgia spread out around her, broken only by the meandering line of the Savannah River. Somewhere to the east, she imagined, it met the Atlantic, but she’d never been to the sea and the imagining was all she had. The smell of dinner was on the air and the sun was setting behind her. The long shadow of the bell tower stretched out across the walls and reached beyond the boundaries of the orphanage. Fin closed her eyes and let part of herself go with it.”
From the opening line to the last word, Peterson developes his characters with rich and vital personalities. You will meet Bartimaeus, who is responsible for teaching Fin to play the fiddle to give her an outlet for her temper. He also has the blunderbus that will change her life forever and set her on a path that even she, could not have imagined. You will meet Jack and Knut and the dastardly Captain Tiberius Creache, just to name a few. Even their ship ”Rattlesnake” has its own personality as it cuts it way through the Atlantic and out manuevers it adversaries. You will laugh, cry and definitely want to kick some pirate booty, all at the same time. Most of all, it is a story of love and redemption.
Folks, I implore you. Strap on your swords and get ready to swashbuckle. My only regret is that I have to wait for the second volume “The Fiddler’s Green” to go to press. Read and be blessed.
Note: There is mild language and situations that may be inappropriate for teens under thirteen or fourteen. Parent should use their discretion.
My rating: *****
Also to be noted: This is the first novel to be published by “The Rabbit Room Press”. Can’t wait to see what they have for us in the future!