Post Captain (1972): Patrick O’Brian

★★★★

Aubrey & Maturin: Book II

Heloise has been gently encouraging me to continue with Aubrey & Maturin ever since I posted on Master and Commander and I have finally kept my promise that I would do so. To be honest, in the aftermath of The Mammoth Hunters this proved to be the perfect book: full of adventure and incident, populated by wonderfully endearing but flawed characters, and written like a dream. I’m swiftly coming to realise that O’Brian is one of those authors whose books you can turn to with a happy sigh, like easing into a warm bath, because you know that as a reader you don’t have to do any work at all: just sit back and enjoy.

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Master and Commander (1969): Patrick O’Brian

★★★★½

An Aubrey & Maturin Adventure: Book I

This encounter with Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin was long overdue: people have been recommending O’Brian’s books to me for years and he clearly inspires the same kind of fervent affection in his readers as Dorothy Dunnett does in hers. I’ve no good reason to explain why I haven’t read them before: it’s true that Napoleonic Europe isn’t my first port of call for a historical novel, but I grew up watching Hornblower, I’ve recently enjoyed the Temeraire novels (which are naval in spirit if not in detail), and the film of Master & Commander has been one of my favourites for over a decade (I still can’t imagine Stephen as anyone but Paul Bettany). It was time to see what all the fuss was about; and I’m very glad I did.

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