Book Recommendation – Master and Commander

(Aubrey & Maturin #1)
Author: Patrick O’Brian

Synopsis: 1800s. Britain’s Nelson leads Navy against Napoleon’s France. Captain Jack Aubrey, newly promoted to old, slow HMS Sophie, is a brave and gifted seaman, his thirst for adventure and victory immense. Aided by friend and skilled ship surgeon Stephen Maturin, Aubrey and crew win clashes, finally hopelessly outmatched by a mighty Spanish frigate.

Review:  We read this Naval Novel for our March Reading Group.  Overall we seemed in agreement that most of us loved the characters but could have done with less technical talk. 

We discussed the comparisons between O’Brian and Austen. Both took a detailed look at a community and the social norms, social connections and outsides within that community.  One member brought up that she heard/read once that Austen didn’t write about the war because she ‘knew’ O’Brian would one day come along and write about it for her. 

Taking the discussion of community further, we discussed how Aubrey can build the community of his ship. He has a level of control in picking his men and setting the feel for life on the ship. With regard to social connections, we looked at Aubrey’s connections and how they both help and hurt his advancement in rank.  We compared his career with those of Wentworth and William Price.

There is a theme of music that runs though the story, and we felt it added to the novel. It gives a level of civility to the men, especially a big man like Aubrey.  It made me think of the Little Mermaid and how Prince Eric can bond with his men when they have that party on the boat.  It’s also a connection between Aubrey and Maturin, two men who otherwise seem very different.

We lightly touched on Maturin’s background and the Irish fight for independence.

Have you read this Naval Novel?  What did you think?

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