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..
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.
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.