The Truelove (Vol. Book 15) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)

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W. W. Norton & Company, Jul 17, 1993 - Fiction - 256 pages
4 Reviews

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.
 

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About the author (1993)

Patrick O'Brian's acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series of historical novels has been described as "a masterpiece" (David Mamet, New York Times), "addictively readable" (Patrick T. Reardon, Chicago Tribune), and "the best historical novels ever written" (Richard Snow, New York Times Book Review), which "should have been on those lists of the greatest novels of the 20th century" (George Will).Set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, O'Brian's twenty-volume series centers on the enduring friendship between naval officer Jack Aubrey and physician (and spy) Stephen Maturin. The Far Side of the World, the tenth book in the series, was adapted into a 2003 film directed by Peter Weir and starring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany. The film was nominated for ten Oscars, including Best Picture. The books are now available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book format.In addition to the Aubrey/Maturin novels, Patrick O'Brian wrote several books including the novels Testimonies, The Golden Ocean, and The Unknown Shore, as well as biographies of Joseph Banks and Picasso. He translated many works from French into English, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir, the first volume of Jean Lacouture's biography of Charles de Gaulle, and famed fugitive Henri Cherrière's memoir Papillon. O'Brian died in January 2000.

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