East of the Hague Line
By Gordon Holmes
Trafford Publishing, 2012
676 pp., hardcover, $35.44; softcover, $25.44; e-book, $3.99
There isn’t a lot of down time on a fishing boat at sea, so it may take a fisherman some time to get through the more than 600 pages that make up Gordon Holmes’ novel “East of the Hague Line.” The good news is it’s worth taking that time.
These days, Holmes may be a real estate broker, but the Yarmouth, Maine, resident is no stranger to commercial fishing. Holmes, who grew up on the Maine coast, wrote about his inspiration for writing the novel in his Nov. 8, 2012, East of the Hague Line blog post.
“When I was just a young boy of 10 my best friend and I used to go down to the floats where the fishermen’s skiffs were tied,” Holmes wrote. “We would sit in their boats and dream about the days when we would set sail and come home with thousands of pounds of fish. For many years as a young man I lived the life as lobsterman and part-time hand on a shrimper or two.”
Added Holmes, who also spent a spring working on a gillnetter, “I always wanted to tell the story of the East Coast fisherman because I admired them all so deeply.”
His original 750-page draft poured forth in four and a half months. Then the real work began. Working under his editor’s supervision, Holmes would engage in seven cover to cover rewrites of his story. Four years later, “East of the Hague Line” emerged as a finished product.
A promotional video for the novel gives the bare bones synopsis of this tale set in the 1980s.
Several subplots are woven into Holmes’ fishing tale, hence the hefty number of pages. But the action is fast-paced and intriguing enough to keep the reader turning the page to find out what will happen next.
Holmes says he’s drawn upon the voices and experiences of three Maine skippers who are also lifelong friends of his to steep his fishing tale in authenticity. While Holmes loves the fishing life, he doesn’t shy away from writing about some of the darker sides of that life, either. It’s all there, the good, the bad and the ugly. But ultimately, the good wins out and makes “East of the Hague Line” an entertaining read.