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.
There are few partnerships in English literature that can hold a candle to Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin and few regency-based authors who write with the meticulous assurance and perfect tone of Patrick O’Brien. It’s a recipe for perfect historical fiction.
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.