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  • Writer's pictureMaree

Mini Review: Post Captain (Aubrey & Maturin) by Patrick O'Brian

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

Post Captain in the second book (out of 21) in the Aubrey and Maturin adventures (the first being Master and Commander).

This series is rich in naval history. In Post Captain, Jack Aubrey and Dr Stephen Maturin become familiar with the life of being country gentleman, as it is peacetime. This includes hunting, entertaining and finding the attentions of lady friends. Without a captaincy, Jack acquires many debts and spends most of the book running away from them. War with Napoleon eventually breaks out and the two friends are stranded in France. What happens next is hilarious. The Good - For lovers of action at sea, there is still plenty in this book even though it begins on land. Life on land gave a new perspective to the pairs lives and was much welcome. Watching a man of the sea trying to survive on land was an experience in itself, especially when Jack constantly refers to things in naval terms. -So much action: both on land and at sea. -So much humour: one liners, bromance, women and in many unexpected places. -I enjoyed the inclusion of Jack and Stephen’s women friends/romances. O’Brian is certainly trying out his skill at being a Jane Austen. -The deep friendship and trust between the two is obvious, especially when Stephen is treating Jack’s wounds, discussing his weight or letting a hive of bees free in Jack’s cabin. -Jack’s role with the navy has its ups and downs. He shares many of his experiences, including rescuing drowning sailors or saving them from sharks. He also has an interesting time proving that his new ship can handle things. -Overall, this book was surprisingly funny. I love how O’Brian can write hilarious things in such a serious way. The Bad -Like the first, this book was better read in small chunks as the writing seems to hop around and needs concentration to stay on track. -Looooong chapters! If you like to read a whole chapter per sitting, you’ll be up late. Quotes “He looked away, smiling, for she was the prettiest thing…with her heightened colour and her fine straight back, sitting on the horse with the unconscious grace of a midshipman at the tiller in a lively sea. .” “…he saw Dr Maturin…He was cutting up a horse in the winter drawing-room.” “’Let me look at your pistols,’ said Jack. ‘They are very well,’ said Stephen, unwilling to open his holsters (a teratoma in one, a bottled Arabian dormouse in the other).” “In Jack’s opinion Stephen was no better than a slut: his papers, odd bits of dry, garlic’d bread, his razors and small-clothes lay on and about his private table in a miserable squalor; and from the appearance of the grizzled wig that was now acting as a tea-cosy for his milk-saucepan, it was clear that he had breakfasted on marmalade.” “’Ready and waiting these fourteen minutes,’ said Stephen in a loud, sour voice. ‘What a wretched tedious slow hand you are with a pen, upon my soul. Scraatch-scratch, gasp-gasp. You might have written the Iliad in half the time, and a commentary upon it, too.’” “’We have bled for out country, and may I be damned if our country shall not bleed for us, moderately.’” 4 Stars Read: February 2020 Published: 1972



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