The Truelove (Vol. Book 15) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)
The fifteenth installment in Patrick O'Brian's widely claimed series of Aubrey/Maturin novels is in equal parts mystery, adventure, and psychological drama.A British whaler has been captured by an ambitious chief in the sandwich islands at French instigation, and Captain Aubrey, R. N., Is dispatched with the Surprise to restore order. But stowed away in the cable-tier is an escaped female convict. To the officers, Clarissa Harvill is an object of awkward courtliness and dangerous jealousies. Aubrey himself is won over and indeed strongly attracted to this woman who will not speak of her past. But only Aubrey's friend, Dr. Stephen Maturin, can fathom Clarissa's secrets: her crime, her personality, and a clue identifying a highly placed English spy in the pay of Napoleon's intelligence service.
In a thrilling finale, Patrick O'Brian delivers all the excitement his many readers expect: Aubrey and the crew of the Surprise impose a brutal pax Britannica upon the islanders in a pitched battle against a band of headhunting cannibals.
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The previous book, The Nutmeg of Consolation, had only a small part of the book concern itself with the ship that bore the name from which the book's title was drawn. When the present volume was first published in England, it was titled Clarissa Oakes. To me this was an appropriate title, for this character for once plays a role throughout the entire book and indeed is instrumental in the development of various characters throughout the book. Yet when the volume was published in the United States, for some unknown reason the American publisher went back to the absurd tradition of finding a ship that plays a temporary role in only a couple of chapters and naming the book for that ship. Thus, The Truelove. The only thing I can say is that on the final page as The Truelove sails off to the west, Mr. and Mrs. Oakes sail off in the ship with their true love. (Or is it true love, for it seems to be the case that Oakes physicallly abused his wife. Yet is there any sign that she loves him the less? I think not.)
Some feel this is a lesser book in the series, feeling the plot is too static. I disagree. I find the character of Clarissa Oakes makes this for me one of the finer books in the series.