My 12yo has been reading one of Patrick O'Brian's books for younger audiences, The Unknown Shore. He asked me to read a bit of it aloud to him last night and do you know what I did afterward? Reader, I absconded with it.
I went on a Patrick O'Brian tear in 2009. I hadn't loved Master and Commander when I read it in 2006, but something prompted me to pick up the second book back when Stella was a baby. I fell right down the rabbit hole, and pulled my husband along with me. It was great fun for both of us.
Oh! I just remembered what the something was: I pulled this book from the shelf on a whim and as I paged through it I was struck by the author's clear affection for the era he was describing, as well as by his attention to detail. I closed the book to see who had written it. Huh, I thought to myself, Patrick O'Brian. Maybe I'll give the second Aubrey-Maturin book a try.
I know that some people go back to those books again and again, until they find themselves eating split peas on an actual tall ship. Some of those people are described in this book, which I never actually finished although now I am wondering if perhaps I ought to. I know myself well enough to know that I enjoy reading about being sent aloft far more than I would enjoy being sent aloft. So even though it was a pleasant immersion into the age of sail (my husband bought a glossary and the cookbook*, because O'Brian's own books weren't enough for him**), I haven't been tempted to revisit it. Until last night, at any rate.
*The cookbook! Did you know it was co-authored by the Tsarina of Tsocks? She can tell you how to make not only the craziest of crazypants socks, but a drowned baby as well! (For that matter, I can tell you how to make a drowned baby, though I prefer to call it spotted dog. I'm not willing to climb ratlines above an angry sea, but I can (and occasionally do!) make a mean steamed suet pudding.)
**I just saw that there's also an atlas. I wonder whether my husband didn't know about the atlas or if he didn't think it necessary to acquire the atlas. Or whether it's lurking on a shelf without my knowledge.
The Unknown Shore has a Jack-ish young character and a Stephen-ish young character, and I am finding them irresistible. This is pleasant, after weeks of dipping into books in a half-hearted and desultory fashion, but it also means I have to hurry. Joe has told me in no uncertain terms that HE will be taking the book to school tomorrow.
I suppose if things get too interesting I can always hide it in the officers' mess. The bosun will fix him if he tries to take it from there.