Lavinia Wren reflects the resolute heart of a seafaring family. Orphaned by the Civil War, Vinnie finds a home in Thomaston, Maine, and grows up with a view of the Georges River, busy shipyards, and the forbidding wall of a prison. In 1865, on the verge of turning thirteen, she meets the son of a shipbuilder, two young sailors, and the raven-haired daughter of a ship carver. For the next sixty years, their lives remain entwined through joy and sorrow as schooners replace square-rigs, German U-boats appear off the coast, horse-drawn carriages give way to automobiles, and airplanes take flight. Lavinia and the sailmakers pull the thread of love, not war, through history, replenishing our souls.
Irene Drago’s remarkable new novel Lavinia Wren and the Sailmakers is an uncommonly deft love story woven into the very fabric of Maine’s rich shipbuilding history. The tale unfolds during the heyday of sailmakers and shipyards and schooners and Navy ships. Drago is so good at capturing our most elemental human bonds, and all the while we are riveted by the cinematic backdrop she paints of war and toil and loss and hope. Find a good chair and settle in for a most wonderful read.—Susan Conley, award-winning author of five books, including Landslide, Elsey Come Home, and Paris Was the Place
Irene M. Drago has written a wonderful book, so finely crafted and a tribute to the seafaring folks of this town!—Renny A. Stackpole, author of The Gillchrest Papers, director emeritus of the Penobscot Marine Museum, and a past president of the Thomaston Historical Society
Drago did her homework. Through research, interviews, and family records, she literally became her main character and experienced the tastes and smells of an early coastal New England shipbuilding town in the late nineteenth century.
She provides an accurate and delicious slice of Thomaston’s rich maritime history initiated by a chance meeting with a generous, history-loving descendant of the prosperous Dunn and Elliot dynasty. Access to years of letters, diaries, and photos from several generations were made available through which she brought the family back to life.
If you are from a seafaring town, you’ll recognize the characters. If not, you will know them when you finish the book.—Margaret McCrea, author of Maine Sail, watercolor artist, and a past president of the Thomaston Historical Society