This richly drawn, tumultous novel is both a rousing-often harrowing-tale of the sea and an incisive, epic portrayal of a watershed year in American history. On New Year's Day, 1896, the enormous steel-hulled four-masted square rigger Neptune's Car ...
Car slides down the ways of a Maine shipyard, the pride of Banning Butler Blanchard, shipbuilder extraordinaire. Undertaking a torturous maiden voyage around the Horn to San Francisco, her crew are driven to murder and near mutiny by the brutal reality of life below deck on a "hellship" during the age of sail. Meanwhile, Blanchard's daughter Mrs. Montague Cutting, her husband, and a party of gilded aristocrats enjoy an idyllic cruise through the South Pacific to Japan, aboard the luxurious private yacht Atalanta. As both Atalanta and Neptune's Car arrive in San Francisco on the eve of the Bryan-McKinley presidential election, the increasing chasm between haves and have-nots threatens to erupt into riot and insurrection.
Voyage is thus not only the gripping story of two disparate ships, their passages, and their passengers and crew, but also a lucid evocation of the first stirrings of the labor movement and the decline of the Gilded Age of robber barons, in an America on the cusp of a new century.