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June 07, 2007



I've never read any of his, though I really should one of these days . . .


Sarah Caudwell. She wrote four marvelous, mannered, legal mysteries about a group of young barristers. Never has international tax law been so amusing.

I shall have to go home and read them again now.


A few months ago, I would have said Tolkien, however, The Children of the Hurin has since been published, and I have not had time to read it, yet.

I have a feeling I may end up feeling that way about the Harry Potter series. Even as J. K. Rowling continues to write.

Andrea - Just One More Book! Podcast

I'd love a few more books by Pheobe Gilman, Dayal Kaur Khalsa and James Marshall -- who are all sorely missed in the world of children's literature.

Kathryn Estelle

This post is very encouraging to me! I started Master and Commader back around the time the film came out, and while I enjoyed what I read, I gave it up because I didn't understand all of the sailing jargon. I just started the fourth book in the Outlander series, so my mind has already started wandering in the direction of what series can I get into next? I think I have my answer! Thanks!

I'm afraid my answer to the BTT question would probably be Jane Austen. I would love to be more interesting or original, but there it is.


Interesting. Browsing in B&N I came across this series a couple of weeks ago. I passed, but only because I saw the movie and wasn't that impressed. So much for the movie. I might have to buy the books after all! You are probably aware of the Horatio Hornblower series(C.S. Forester). If not, and you like a good seafaring tale, you might enjoy that series as well. I haven't read the books, but they made an excellant A&E production that I thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks for your recommendation. BTW, I second Austen.


Patrick O'Brian's 'Lucky' Jack Aubery books will be greatly missed by me, too. The film was some consolation after O'Brian's death, despite being a conglomeration of tales.It did finish with a good opportunity for a sequel as well.
I got a copy of William Golding's : To the Ends of the Earth: A Sea Trilogy, recently. It was dramatised by the BBC in 2005. I enjoyed the television adaption so much that it left me with a craving to read Golding's trilogy.
I've also read 'This Thing of Darkness', Harry Thompson's first and only novel (he died in November 2005). It's about the voyage of HMS Beagle and the friendship between Captain Robert FitzRoy and Charles Darwin. If you like seafaring, exploration and a well-researched historical novel, this is a cracking read.


Kathryn Estelle, O'Brian I think is one of those authors that one must approach at the right time of life. I tried reading Jane Austen in high school and couldn't get past the first few pages, nor "The Hobbit" when I was about 12 -- now I can't imagine life without either. I've heard other readers remark on the naval jargon in O'Brian, how you can just sort of let it wash over you, as it were! without losing much sense of where things are going. I think that's one of the things I admire about O'Brian, is that he knows it's dense and incomprehensible to many readers, and so he gives little details to let you know what he's trying to convey, a sense of whether a certain wind is fortunate or not, for instance. And of course Stephen's obtuseness is invaluable, as Jack frequently has to explain to him what the weather gage is, or where the studdingsails are -- "No, not those, my dear, the other ones" -- and so on.


Hmm, I've never read those books. I really liked the series about "Horatio Hornblower", however. Ever read those?

I think if I could request a second book, it would definitely be a Sherlock Holmes novel by Arthur Conan Doyle. How cruel of him to reference "other" mysteries in his novels, and then not satisfy our curiosity!


I'm almost tempted to say Madeleine L'Engle - I've always wondered what happened to Vicki Austin (am I remembering how she spells her name right?) in adulthood.

And by the way, you've won my blog contest! If you could email me your address, I can get your prize (the blue tweedy yarn) out the door ASAP!

Ruth from Virginia

As I read your first paragraph, asking about what author you would like to hear from again, my first thought was "Patrick O'Brian." Then I saw the cover art for "Nutmeg." Great minds, and all that.

I have read the entire series, and believe it ends in a good place, but I would welcome more books. Of course, I have been hooked on seafaring novels of that era since I discovered "Hornblower." I find that I have picked up a little knowledge in the reading of them. I rather impressed a friend when we were on a museum tall ship with being able to identify a capstan and it's use, and to know what a "pilot boat" might be.

There is a similar series still being written by Dewey Lambdin. These are the "Alan Lewrie Naval Adventures." Alan Lewrie has the morals of a tom cat, which is why his men call him "Ram Cat Lewrie," but when he is at sea, oh my! Somebody has called it the "sailing, swords, and sex" series. I like the sailing and swords part best. I just finished the latest in the series and was not disappointed.

I am also thankful to the posters who mentioned William Goldings and Harry Thompson. I am setting a course to my public library's website forthwith!

Mary Tess

Would you (and any others who care to weigh in) consider the O'Brian books an appropriate gift for a very intelligent 12 year old boy who loves to read classics? It would be great fun to introduce him to a series that has the potential to provide many hours of joy but at the same time I don't want to give him something too adult.


Well, Mary Tess, there is little sex as such -- no "sex scenes" in the modern definition, that I can recall -- but there is certainly mention of it. Jack is unfaithful to his wife on a number of occasions in the earlier books, and there are frequent references (usually in passing) not only to what sailors do on shore but with whom they do it, as well as the various diseases or conditions that can result. There is some swearing, although I have a vague sense that it's more in the later books than the earlier ones. Battle scenes are atmospheric and fairly frank, but not especially gruesome; there is I think more blood-and-guts in Stephen's surgery after the battles.

Whether these are an issue for a 12-year-old (or for his parents, as it happens) would probably depend on the boy himself.

My main concern would be that O'Brian is very wordy, and at times beautifully subtle. Sometimes he'll take a whole page to build up to a joke where the "punchline" is tossed off so easily that you can miss it if you're not paying attention. His sentences can be very long, and very complex, but he's so good at constructing them that I find this more of a pleasure than a hindrance. Again, depends on your boy -- if he's already read stuff like Dumas or Dickens, he'd probably be all right. I would just reassure him ahead of time to simply absorb the naval jargon and not let it hold him back!

Mary Tess

Thank you very much Jeanne for for taking the time to write such an infomative reply. I think I'll give them to him. If they are too advanced for him he will eventually be at the right age to appreciate them.


Well chosen! I too am slowly making my way through the Master and Commander novels and love the manner in which Patrick O'Brian weaves his words - some of his descriptions can leave me lost in thought for the rest of the afternoon. I went through a phase of keeping a small notebook by me to jot down his particularly evocative descriptions and share them with my students - but sadly they were never quite as moved :) However, Laurie Colwin - she would definitely be my "Oh please why couldn't she stay and give us more lovely writing" author. I have read and re-read her cooking essays many many times and can still laugh out loud when describing to people the scene where her little girl demands "slamber" from the fishmonger and cry with hilarity at the fish and onions that were hurled brutishly into the baking pan. I'm sure Laurie could have written for 40 years and would always have had something pertinent, witty and warming to say.


Stumbled across this post today and I must comment to say I wholly agree about O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels! A few months ago my husband requested "an audiobook" from the library for his weekly trek to Cincinnati, and I happened to see _Master and Commander_ and picked it up. Since then we have both either listened to or read up through #17, and I'm already feeling the pain of having so few left. (And planning to go back and reread the whole series in print!)

If you haven't already discovered it, there's a sort of predecessor to the Aubrey/Maturin series, _The Golden Ocean_, which we really enjoyed also; _The Unknown Shore_ is apparently a similar one but we haven't looked for that one yet.

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