Friday, January 2, 2009

Ahoy, matey!

Following quickly on the heels of Curse of the Blue Tattoo comes L.A. Meyer's next installment, Under the Jolly Roger: Being an Account of the Further Nautical Adventures of Jacky Faber, narrated by Katherine Kellgren. Jacky has sailed to England on the Pequod (with a sly reference to the Captain's obsession with "that whale") and sets off in search of her fiance Jaimy. Turned away by Jaimy's mother (who has not given her son any of Jacky's letters from Boston), Jacky learns that she'll be able to see him at the horse races the next day. Wearing the riding silks that she earned when she won that Boston horse race, she spies Jaimy holding hands with a lovely young girl and throws her betrothal ring in his face and runs away ... right into the clutches of a British Navy press gang.

Jacky finds herself on board the HMS Wolverine, captained by an evil sadist who loses little time in attempting rape. However, he dies in the attempt (apoplexy, not murder), and Jacky finds herself as acting captain. Despite the loyalty of her crew, she soon makes plans to leave the Navy -- since they don't really want her despite her obvious sailing and tactical prowess -- obtaining a letter of marque that enables her to privately capture the merchant vessels of Britain's enemies (at the time, France and Spain) for her personal gain. She gathers a crew of Irishmen and enjoys some success -- even starting an orphanage for London's street waifs. Alas, the British Navy revokes her letter, captures her, and charges her with piracy. Before the Navy can return her to England for trial and likely hanging, Jacky finds herself in the midst of the Battle of Trafalgar and makes her escape once more.

And, like her previous outing, Kellgren does an outstanding job. (The superlatives have been exhausted, I'm afraid.) It's another splendid adventure, and Kellgren -- yes -- brings it vividly to life. Jacky's highs and lows, as well as her encounters with the toplofty naval commanders, Irish and Scotsmen, Cheapside orphans, and the men and boys of the Wolverine are all delightfully rendered. The songs continue in this episode and they are beautifully sung. The 15 hours flew by.

As an upcoming Odyssey listener, I'm looking forward to episode four: In the Belly of the Bloodhound: Being an Account of a Particularly Peculiar Adventure in the Life of Jacky Faber. Although I shall have to work on some additional things to say about it!

No comments: