I listened to the first Bloody Jack adventure in September 2007 and I haven't been disappointed yet. After a 10-month hiatus from this blog, it's a delight to revel in My Bonny Light Horseman: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, in Love and War, her sixth literary adventure. (One of the many things that I love about these books is the conceit that they are being written as fast as Jacky is having the adventures by her best friend and confidante, Amy Trevelyan.) Author L.A. Meyer shows no indication that he might be wrapping this series up anytime soon. At the same time, one wonders what could possibly happen next with the poor girl. (It's probably best not to ask ...)
At the end of Mississippi Jack, Jacky reconciled with her beloved Jaimy Fletcher, who will spend the next year escorting merchant ships to and from the Far East. Jacky decides to use their (final?) separation to beef up the coffers of Faber Shipping Worldwide and has been sailing from Massachusetts to the Caribbean carrying freight. The nefarious British Navy captures her, planning to take her to London for an accounting of her crimes. Through circumstances that would only happen to Jacky, the British vessel is captured by the French while Jacky -- a prisoner -- is in command! Attempting to keep her pirate alter-ego (La Belle Jeune Fille Sans Merci) a secret, Jacky and the rest of the sailors are thrown in a French prison awaiting exchange. Then, Jacky is yanked from her cell and walked to the guillotine! Her friends watch horrified as she is decapitated ...
Wait! Jacky finds herself facing British Naval Intelligence, where they "encourage" her to become a spy for the royalist French, eager to bring down that upstart, Napoleon Bonaparte. Jacky will join a small, somewhat risqué, dance company, where the dancers double as high-class prostitutes. She is to finagle some pillow-talk secrets from the French military men who patronize the dancers. And, for those who wish to experience the rest of the story on their own, I will stop. Suffice it to say that this adventure takes Jacky from the boudoir to the battlefield in a way that seems entirely logical (for fans of the series).
"Outstanding." "Fluid and effortless." "Highly entertaining." "Fine performance." "She cries, yells, sings, flirts, commands, consoles." These are all things I've said here about Katherine Kellgren in her previous performances of the novels. They all apply to this installment as well (ho hum!). As a narrator of a lot of audiobooks, Kellgren is pretty darn good; in Bloody Jack she has found her boon companion. Kellgren is Jacky. With all Jacky's fine qualities and her warts, it's a completely honest peformance. Yes, there are accents (French and German as well as the many variations of English), there is singing (all the loops and flourishes of Rule, Britannia [Anglophiles: I think you'll enjoy that link!] among other songs), there are tears, fears, love and -- above all -- Jacky's sheer lust for living. But aside from all the fireworks, there's Jacky's heart: As deep and wide as the ocean she loves. And Kellgren never forgets that it's Jacky's heart we've connected to -- and that's what makes her interpretation of this character so affecting and memorable.
You know, I could leave Meyer's Jacky at this point -- her adventures get more and more preposterous and her anticipated reunion with Jaimy (if it arrives) is probably going to be a bit of a snore. But I can't tear myself away from Kellgren's Jacky. I want to see how it all works out for her. I don't think I'm alone in this: In some slightly specious fact-finding (in the spirit of today's elections), 9% of the print copies of My Bonny Light Horseman are checked out, while 57% of the audiobooks are checked out. [PolitiFact analysis: 1 of 11 print copies, 4 of 7 audiobooks.]
My Bonny Light Horseman: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, in Love and War by L.A. Meyer
Narrated by Katherine Kellgren
Listen & Live Audio, 2009. 12:01 (unabridged)