Monday, August 17, 2015

Sea Fever by Sam Jefferson

I am an ardent fan of nautical fiction. Whether tramping with the good doctor as he discovers new species in exotic locales in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series or boarding a French privateer in the Gulf of Toulon in Alexander Kent’s Bolitho books, my over-active imagination throws me right into the maritime action. And all from the comfort of my couch. 

As an hommage to some of these literary sea-faring greats, Sam Jefferson has written Sea Fever: The True Adventures That Inspired Our Greatest Maritime Authors, from Conrad Masefield, Melville And Hemingway. With an amiable, conversational tone, Jefferson recounts the true-life sea adventures of almost a dozen English and American writers who used much of their early experiences aboard ship to create such masterpieces as Treasure Island, Moby Dick, Sea Wolf, Swallows and Amazons, among many others. 

A boozy afternoon of marlin fishing off the coast of Cuba, complete with loaded weapons and shark attacks, became Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man And The Sea. The English children’s author, Arthur Ransome bought a sailboat and cruised the Baltic between the wars with in order to get away from a loveless marriage. Erskine Childers, the author of The Riddle Of The Sands, ended his sea-faring days as a gun runner for The Irish Republican Army and was later executed for his troubles. As a surgeon aboard the HMS Chichester, the 18th-century English writer Tobias Smollett was the first to record the abysmal living conditions of the common English seaman. 

Author Sam Jefferson clearly loves his subject, and his obvious delight is infectious. I’d never heard of Frederick Marryat, Conrad Masefield, or Tobias Smollett. But Jefferson’s enthusiasm has piqued my interest in both their lives and their works and I may just pick up a copy of Roderick Random, In The South Seas or The Pilot. After reading Sam Jefferson’s Sea Fever, you just might too! 

You can reserve Sea Fever here.

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