The Commodore

The Commodore

Book - 1995
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Having survived a long and desperate adventure in the Great South Sea, Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin return to England to very different circumstances. For Jack it is a happy homecoming, at least initially, but for Stephen it is disastrous: his little daughter appears to be autistic, incapable of speech or contact, while his wife, Diana, unable to bear this situation, has disappeared, her house being looked after by the widowed Clarissa Oakes.Much of The Commodore takes place on land, in sitting rooms and in drafty castles, but the roar of the great guns is never far from our hearing. Aubrey and Maturin are sent on a bizarre decoy mission to the fever-ridden lagoons of the Gulf of Guinea to suppress the slave trade. But their ultimate destination is Ireland, where the French are mounting an invasion that will test Aubrey's seamanship and Maturin's resourcefulness as a secret intelligence agent.The subtle interweaving of these disparate themes is an achievement of pure storytelling by one of our greatest living novelists.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, 1995.
Edition: 1st American ed.
ISBN: 9780393037609
0393037606
Characteristics: 281 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.

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brinyurchin2
Jun 19, 2011

O'Brian readers can expect the same comfortable literary habitat occupied by Captain Aubrey and Stephen Maturin in this 17th installment of the series. Oblique conversations about their back-on shore-wives, over pots of coffee below decks, as the ship sails to far-off assignments is the familiar stuff of past books, but these later installments, this one included, are becoming more parlor scenes at sea than high sea adventure. The books are getting a bit old, along with their creator. But that said, I still enjoyed hanging out with these old friends navigating the sea and the depths of international espionage. What in earlier books were thrilling and seductively drawn out naval battle scenes, in this book are delayed and brief at best, as if O'Brien is deliberately denying the reader the adrenaline fix of a good battle in favor of hanging out with his two aging main characters. It's a case of comfort and domesticity at sea trumping sea adventure, and the rough spice of travelling to the far sides of the world. And it leaves me longing for the earlier books, the far left side of the book shelf. Fortunately, it has been so long since I set out with O'Brien on the first voyage sixteen books ago, that I can look forward to the earlier adventures as if for the first time.

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