`It must be possible to find a balance,' I say, `between deathly boredom and a too-violent life.'
`There isn't a balance,' he says. `It's always all or nothing.'
Lili is a runaway. She's left behind a humdrum existence in France to go in search of freedom, of adventure, of life. Her search takes her to the island of Kodiak, Alaska, home to a rag-tag community of fishermen, army vets and drifters who man the island's boats and trawlers. Despite her tiny frame, faltering English and total lack of experience, when the fishing season begins Lili lands a job on board the Rebel - one of the toughest gigs in town.
The work is harder than anything she's ever known, and as the only woman on the ship, she's forced to prove her worth time and again. Inwardly, she rails against her callous crewmembers; outwardly, she struggles to speak loud enough and make herself understood. Lili is tough and determined though - she has nothing to lose, after all - and at sea she finally finds the intensity of life she's been looking for. But when, slowly, undeniably, she begins to fall in love with a fellow sailor, she needs to decide whether she is willing to compromise her newfound freedom.
Catherine Poulain has lived on the road and on the sea for most of her life. Employed in fish farms in Iceland and as a farm worker in Canada, she also worked as a barmaid in Hong Kong and in naval shipyards in the US. She spent ten years fishing in Alaska before returning to France, where she was born. Woman at Sea is her first novel.