Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Returning to an Old Favorite

Sunday evening, I finished reading the novel I'd borrowed from the Lewes Public Library. This week is full enough that I won't have a chance to get back to the library again until the week-end, at the earliest.

So I found myself in front of the book shelves late that night, scanning the titles of books that I've read and thought enough of to own a copy. I was looking for a book I could comfortably revisit.

As is often the case, I eventually grabbed one of the Aubrey/Maturin novels of Patrick O'Brian. I keep coming back to these books. This time, it was the first in the series, Master and Commander. This book, by the way, does not tell the tale that was told in the movie of the same name; it gives an introduction to Captain Jack Aubrey and his pal Stephen Maturin.

At the start of the book, Jack is given a promotion and his first command, a "little small squat merchantman with two masts" as Stephen calls it when he first sees the Sophie.

Small, old, slow and not very powerful she may be, but a command is a command and Jack celebrates with too much food and too much drink. He wakes on his ship at dawn the next day, hug-over, sour and sick. But slowly, the sun comes up.
As his thoughts ranged on so the low cabin brightened steadily. A fishing boat passed under the Sophie's stern, laden with tunny and uttering the harsh roar of a conch; at almost the same time the sun popped up from behind St. Philip's fort -- it did, in fact, pop up, flattened like a sideways lemon in the morning haze and drawing its bottom free of the land with a distinct jerk. In little more than a minute the greyness of the cabin had utterly vanished: the deck-head was alive with light glancing from the rippling sea; and a single ray, reflected from some unmoving surface on the distant quay, darted through the cabin windows to light up Jacks coat and its blazing epaulette. The sun rose within his mind, obliging his dogged look to broaden into a smile, and he swung out of his cot.
I love the language in these stories, and I've always been a fan of seafaring stories. So what if this will be my eighth or ninth time through this book? I love these books.
Filed in:

No comments:

Post a Comment