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Landfalls is a fictionalized reimagining of the ill-fated Lapérouse expedition (1785-1788), a voyage of exploration that attempted to circumnavigate the globe for science and the glory of France.

Each chapter of Landfalls is told from a different point of view, including those of the French captains, their officers, scientists on board, rank-and-file crew members, natives and other Europeans they encountered, and loved ones waiting at home.

Intrigued? Read an excerpt here: Chapter 6, “Fog”


hardback books (English) 8.31.15BUY A COPY

North American hardback edition (FSG):

Australia and New Zealand trade paperback (Little, Brown UK):

UK hardback edition (Little, Brown UK):

German edition (Die letzForeign editions picten Entdecker, DuMont Buchverlag), translated by Monika Köpfer:

Italian edition (Navi perdute, Neri Pozza), translated by Maddalena Togliani:


(click here for a more complete list of reviews)


Interested in reading more — maybe even a lot more — about the Lapérouse expedition or the people and places that appear in Landfalls? Here’s a pretty comprehensive bibliography for the project.




33 thoughts on “Landfalls

  1. I just finished the book and it’s a reading highlight of the year for me. The writing is outstanding and the plot handling is compelling. I could not put it down.

  2. I’m so glad I turned to the NYTimes first thing this morning and read Katy Smith’s review of Landfalls. I just ordered it– one day delivery! I cannot wait to get into this book, these stories, these lives. I, too, and writing an historical novel with multiple storytellers and have at times wondered– what the heck am I doing? So happy to see it can be done and done extremely well. I look forward to your readings in the Bay Area. Cheers and congrats on the debut!

  3. Incredible book! I have always been a fan of “men on wooden ships” literature and this is as good or better than any I have ever read. Congratulations on your literary accomplishment.

  4. Most honorable and esteemed Storyteller Naomi J. Williams: Why does The Astrolabe Sinking, 1785 on the cover, the lithograph by Louis Lebreton, sink the ship 3 years before it sunk? Astounding, confounding, and …. folies a plusieurs. I cannot find the answer in my Luddite-fueled searches. Possible to enlighten, please? Such a beautiful set of tales, of olden days, from so many different perspectives. The vicarious journeys were such a pleasure, thank you thank you thank you.

    1. Good catch, B.J.! I know I saw the copy on the cover art at least once before the book went to press and can’t believe I didn’t notice that! Every mention I can find of this painting online has the same wrong date. For instance, here: In fact, it appears to be part of the name of the painting. Perhaps the error originated with the artist? I should probably find this more distressing than funny, but this morning I’m finding it more funny than otherwise. Thanks for calling it to my attention!

  5. Hello, Landfalls has just been published in the UK and I’ve lost a weekend reading it. I thought Lily King’s Euphoria was the best novel I’ve read this year but Landfalls is equally good!

  6. Sighting the voyage from so many different angles gives such a rounded understanding of what the experience must have been like. I’m from UK and the quality of the writing puts it right up there with authors like Patrick O’Brian and Hilary Mantel.

  7. Not exactly a fan of nautical fiction, but I chanced upon The Guardian’s review of your book and decided to pick it up at the local library.

    It’s the first book of 2016 that I’ve finished, and frankly it sets a real high bar for others to beat in the coming 11 months. I really loved how you handled the characters, complex as they are, and even the most caricaturable of them seem altogether human and believable and endearing.

    I cannot wait for your next piece.

  8. Thank you for this wonderful book. Very ambitious for a first novel! I came to your website to “geek out” and loved your bibliography and blogs about your research.

  9. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I’ve read it twice now, both times on vacation. You have a serious gift for writing!! Keep it up!

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