The Truelove (Aubrey / Maturin Novels, Vol. 15) (Book 15)

by Patrick O'Brian

Paperback, 1993



Call number




W. W. Norton & Company (1993), 304 pages


Fiction. Historical Fiction. HTML: The fifteenth installment in Patrick O'Brian's widely acclaimed series of Aubrey-Maturin novels is equal parts mystery, adventure, and psychological drama. A British whaler has been captured by an ambitious chief in the Sandwich Islands at French instigation, and Captain Jack Aubrey is dispatched with the Surprise to restore order. But stowed away in the cable-tier is an escaped female convict. To the officers, Clarissa Harvill is an object of awkward courtliness and dangerous jealousies. Aubrey himself is won over and indeed strongly attracted to this woman who will not speak of her past. But only Aubrey's friend, Dr. Stephen Maturin, can fathom Clarissa's secrets: her crime, her personality, and a clue identifying a highly placed English spy in the pay of Napoleon's intelligence service. In a thrilling finale, Patrick O'Brian delivers all the excitement his many readers expect..… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member iayork
Not the most riveting Aubrey/Maturin installment, but....: "The Truelove", the immediate precursor to Patrick O'Brian's "The Wine Dark Sea", is quite frankly not the most riveting installment in the Aubrey/Maturin saga. And yet it is an interesting psychological glimpse into the personalities of
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the officers and crew of Her Majesty's Hired Vessel Surprise, when a female stowaway, Clarissa Harvill, is discovered. She becomes quite literally the main attraction to Surprise's junior officers, and even a trusted veteran like Captain Thomas Pullings, falls prey to her charms. For once neither Captain Jack Aubrey nor Dr. Stephen Maturin are the main focus of this tale, devoted instead to the enigmatic Clarissa Oakes (She is married off to one of the junior officers later during the tale.), who provides Maturin with a tantalizing clue regarding a French spy working in Whitehall. Instead we see an idyllic sojourn in the South Seas marred by personality disputes, a brief battle on a Polynesian island between French privateers and Surprise's crew, and the eventual appearance of the French privateer Franklin, which will play a prominent role in the next novel in the series. This book still deserves highest praise for O'Brian's eloquent prose and vivid descriptions of Polynesian natural history.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
The American title "The Truelove" is one of those titles that doesn't connect very well to the story. The ship in question is only tangentially part of the plot line. The British title "Clarissa Oakes" is better, because Clarissa is a major part of the story - but the title is unusual for the
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series. Not that titles play a major part in my enjoyment of a novel, but this title anomaly reflects the uniqueness of this story in the series. While there is the requisite sailing and fighting, the introduction of a woman to the ship - and an unusual woman at that - give this story it's real conflict
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LibraryThing member jckeen
Another good one by O'Brian. Not as much naval battle as I would have liked, but still a good read.
LibraryThing member gbsallery
The quote on the front cover of my edition of Clarissa Oakes reads "The greatest historical novelist of all time." (The Times). Usually, such a description would warrant qualification, or simply be out-and-out hyperbole. In this case, however, it is nothing other than the truth. O'Brian has
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delivered not just a novel, but a whole series of novels, whose every page is a sustained, joyful coruscation of un-showy brilliance. Masterful. And indeed commanding.
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LibraryThing member JBD1
A perfectly good, if fairly unremarkable, installment in the series. As usual, I wanted Maturin to be able to see more birds.
LibraryThing member sben
Little action, much character development.
LibraryThing member wealhtheowwylfing
Stephen and Captain Aubrey continue their adventures on the high seas. This book is, like all the rest, full of beautifully understated but rich character moments.
LibraryThing member elenchus
In which Aubrey suspects something gravely amiss with his crew, and finds his efforts to confirm are frustrated both by naval tradition and his own history as a mid. Maturin endeavours to find sanctuary in Australia for two rescued children, thereby stumbling upon secrets closer to England. Leaving
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Botany Bay and ostensibly bound for South America, the Surprises again find themselves waylaid by a proxy war in Moahu (Sandwich Islands).


Clarissa Oakes related by marriage to mid Oakes, in fact wed by Martin at sea in order to avoid deportation if the cutter following Surprise is after absconders.

The original "mini-series" starts with Volume 11 (mission to Chile & Peru), they have been waylaid these several volumes since.

Events pick up immediately after The Nutmeg of Consolation and close a number of months later, in the same quarter of the globe.
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LibraryThing member DarthDeverell
Clarissa Oakes, Patrick O’Brian’s fifteenth book in his Aubrey-Maturin series, picks up shortly after the events of The Nutmeg of Consolation, with Captain Jack Aubrey and the crew of the Suprise having departed from Australia with two unexpected new passengers: Stephen’s former assistant,
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Padeen, who had been transported to Australia in lieu of a death sentence for attacking a man while in the throes of addiction to laudanum; and Clarissa Harvill, brought aboard by Midshipman Oakes.

The broad plot focuses on Aubrey and the Surprise traveling to Moahu, where they will aid Queen Puolani against a rival claimant to the throne, Kalahua, who has allied himself with the French and captured the crew of the English whaler Truelove. Along the way, they stop and resupply at Annamooka in Tonga, offering O’Brian the opportunity to further explore Polynesian culture. While this sets the plot in motion, much of the story explores shipboard life and the complications that can arise due to jealousies and rivalries with a midshipman’s wife aboard. The novel also continues the circumnavigation of the globe that began in The Thirteen Gun Salute and will end in The Commodore.

Like the previous eight novels, Clarissa Oakes exists outside the normal flow of time – this novel being the ninth of eleven to exist in what O’Brian described as an extended 1812, with these books taking place between the beginning of June 1813 and November 1813. Those looking for a perfect chronology are advised to simply enjoy the story and the way in which O’Brian perfectly recreates the world of the Napoleonic Wars, using Aubrey and Stephen’s activities to comment on the rapid changes occurring in this era and the passage of time in the series’ internal chronology. Interestingly, the U.S. edition changed the title to The Truelove, after the British whaling vessel that appears near the end. This Folio Society edition reprints the original text with insets containing historical portraits and sketches to illustrate some of the scenes.
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LibraryThing member malcrf
Typical O'Brian Aubrey/Maturin - rich characters, page-turning plot and an incredibly vivid and evocative prose. Excellent.


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Original publication date


Physical description

304 p.; 8.3 inches


0393310167 / 9780393310160
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