Post Captain (Aubrey-Maturin, Book Two)
Patrick O’Brian, 1972
Premise: Sequel to Master and Commander. It seems that Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin would be settled into their new routines, except peace breaks out and they’re left on shore without a job. Being on shore holds a new set of complications for them, including the most volatile element of all: women.
I forgot that the women who will be important throughout the series make their appearance so early! The naive, stable Sophie and the emotional, bitter Diana make trouble for the boys’ friendship over most of this book. Everyone’s emotional flaws are on full display as anger, uncertainty, attraction and betrayal war within all four characters.
It can be frustrating seeing the gentlemen lose their senses and the ladies downright encourage it, but there is enough other plot to lighten the story. There is a wonderful scene where they abruptly put aside their differences to escape from Jack’s creditors, and a great deal of affectionate humor follows. (Jack Aubrey’s utter inability to manage any money that isn’t used outfitting a ship for sea is a running plot line through the series.) Jack is eventually given command of a downright terrible ship and unhappy crew, and he struggles to bring them together enough to do their job.
On the side, Maturin starts actively getting information from Spain for the British government, and his very quiet second career as a spy begins here.
Despite being on the long side, this novel flies along, and the parts that brought me down were certainly balanced by parts that were utterly delightful.
4 Stars - A Very Good Book