The seeds of this epic tale came from a story told to author Lily Woodhouse concerning a young husband and father who was out of work.
"He was offered a job by a widow, some years older than he was,’ says Woodhouse. ‘She had a business running scows around the coast and needed a strong, sea-savvy man to do the work. When she offered him the position it came with the proviso that he become her lover. He accepted. He had no choice, the story-teller told me. It was the Depression. I asked about his wife and was told she had no choice either. The story lodged in my mind as fertile ground for a novel.’