Aaron Burr, Vice President for Thomas Jefferson’s cabinet, fathered only one child that survived past infancy. Her name was Theodosia Burr Alston, a well-educated and accomplished woman who was highly respected in her time. In the winter of 1812, Theodosia mysteriously disappeared on a ship voyage from South Carolina to New York.
Historians have theorized that her vessel either shipwrecked or was captured by pirates who murdered those aboard. But in Michael Parker’s new novel, “The Watery Part of the World” (Algonquin/2011), Theodosia survives the ship’s tragic fate and becomes one of a handful of inhabitants on a remote island in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. There, she bears several children and befriends an African-American caretaker named Woodrow. The book bounces back and forth between the narratives of Theodosia, her two daughters and Woodrow to paint a complete picture of island life and the isolation that comes with it.