The Commodore (Vol. Book 17) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)
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The seventeenth novel in the best-selling Aubrey/Maturin series of naval tales, which the New York Times Book Review has described as "the best historical novels ever written."
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.
deck, where he would stand for half a glass or so, revelling with Jack, Tom and all hands present in the squadron's pace as the breeze came whistling in either over the starboard or the larboard bow, no longer a soldier's wind right aft as it had been the first day they sank the shore, but never heading them either, so that they beat steadily towards the Line, making legs a whole watch long. 'This has never been known in the memory of the oldest Guineaman,' said Mr Woodbine, the master, 'and
could engage her real attention when a famous natural philosopher was by. 'You must certainly come tomorrow,' she said as they parted, 'and I will show you my garden and my creatures - I have a chanting goshawk and a brush-tailed porcupine! And perhaps you might like to see my bones.' 'Nothing could possibly give me greater pleasure,' said Stephen, pressing her hand. 'And perhaps we might walk by the swamp.' 'Well, Stephen, you were in luck, upon my word,' said Jack, as they walked down to the
date is perpetually postponed. I should never have insisted on your coming back so soon. After all, I have known the Navy all my life, and never, never, has any squadron put to sea on the date the port admiral or commodore was told in the first place. Nor with the same ships. But now, upon my word, you must and shall be fed. Sophie complains that she saw nothing of you, because of the children's measles - keeps mentioning it. We will drag her from her accounts and sit down comfortably with a dish
moment to lose.' CHAPTER FIVE 'Why am I so nervous?' asked Stephen as he rode hack towards Portsmouth. 'My mind is in a silly flutter - pursues no clear line - flies off. Why, oh why did I leave my pouch of leaves behind?' This was the perfect opportunity for them to show their powers, so very much superior to those of the poppy, which provided little more than a stupid tranquillity. 'Though there is something to be said for a stupid tranquillity at times,' he reflected, remembering that
plants, birds and animals you can whenever we go ashore. I will give you an able seaman's wages and ask Captain Pullings to enter you as a supernumerary.' 'Happy, sir, very happy,' said Square, and they shook hands upon it. After another hundred yards and some thought Dr Maturin said 'There seemed to be an elegant swamp the other side of the town. If I can deal with my rounds early enough, we might go. there this afternoon; and in the following days we may ascend the lofty hill beyond.' Captain