Naval fiction seems to be the theme for all my April reads so far, though this wasn’t a deliberate choice! I’ve been so enjoying this second circumnavigation of Patrick O’Brian’s masterly series that Mauritius Command wound up jumping a few places up on my reading list. Book four in the series takes place a few years after the events of HMS Surprise and is based on the very real Mauritius campaign of 1810, putting our two protagonists right at the centre of it.
After last month’s series of Revolutionary/Napoleonic-era biographies, it was back to historical fiction for me as April opened. It’s been a long time since I read the Hornblower books – I think it must have been something like 2005 originally – and I took a notion this week that I wanted to go through both the novels and TV series again.
Although Mr Midshipman Hornblower was not the first book C.S. Forester wrote chronologically to feature the character, it is the book wherein Horatio Hornblower’s career in the navy first begins.
After enjoying Post Captain so much, I couldn’t really wait to get stuck into HMS Surprise, the third in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series. It proved to be another excellent piece of Napoleonic naval fiction; rich in action and personal drama alike.
Master & Commander has been the first of my 2018 books to be a reread rather than a first-time read. I can’t recall when I first read the novel, though I know it was before I left home for uni, but I do think I was a bit too young to really appreciate some of the nuance in it.
LADY HELENA INVESTIGATES
BY JANE STEEN
Publication Date: March 14, 2018
eBook; 359 Pages
Series: Scott-De Quincy Mysteries, Book One
Genre: Historical Mystery
A reluctant lady sleuth finds she’s investigating her own family.
Step into Lady Helena Whitcombe’s world with the first novel in a series that will blend family saga and mystery-driven action with a slow-burn romance in seven unputdownable investigations.
1881, Sussex. Lady Helena Scott-De Quincy’s marriage to Sir Justin Whitcombe, three years before, gave new purpose to a life almost destroyed by the death of Lady Helena’s first love. After all, shouldn’t the preoccupations of a wife and hostess be sufficient to fulfil any aristocratic female’s dreams? Such a shame their union wasn’t blessed by children . . . but Lady Helena is content with her quiet country life until Sir Justin is found dead in the river overlooked by their grand baroque mansion.
The intrusion of attractive, mysterious French physician Armand Fortier, with his meddling theory of murder, into Lady Helena’s first weeks of mourning is bad enough. But with her initial ineffective efforts at investigation and her attempts to revive her long-abandoned interest in herbalism comes the realization that she may have been mistaken about her own family’s past. Every family has its secrets—but as this absorbing series will reveal, the Scott-De Quincy family has more than most.
Can Lady Helena survive bereavement the second time around? Can she stand up to her six siblings’ assumption of the right to control her new life as a widow? And what role will Fortier—who, as a physician, is a most unsuitable companion for an earl’s daughter—play in her investigations?