Rarely can my interest in a book be so perfectly expressed by its title as in the case of Pirates! by Celia Rees.  I mean, why was I interested?  Pirates!  It’s all rather self-evident.

But this is also a Dusty Bookshelf book, so despite the pirates(!) it took me some time to get to it somehow.  Backstory:

How did I get it?  Bookswap with my book club.  I’d been seeing it at bookstores and the library for ages but somehow never got to it, so when it wandered past me available for free, I thought…pirates!  And took it home.

How long was it on the shelf?  Since February 2011…I read it in April, so 14 months.  Ouch.

Am I keeping it?  No…I enjoyed it, and I enjoy the title way too much, but I didn’t quite love it enough to keep it.

What, you ask, is the book about?  Besides pirates, of course.  It’s about Nancy, the tom-boyish daughter of a wealthy English merchant, who after her father’s death finds herself packed off to the family plantation in Jamaica.  There she bonds with Minerva, a slave who becomes like a sister to her.  The two girls flee into the wilderness when Nancy realizes she’s being forced towards a marriage with the terrifyingly cruel Bartholome, another merchant and plantation owner.  Nancy and Minerva find a friendly band of pirates and join the crew, though Nancy is still dreaming about her childhood sweetheart–who just happens to have joined the British Navy.

It’s a fun story and an exciting premise, and I loved reading a novel about female pirates in the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy.  I mean, I wrote a novel with that premise–it’s kind of an area of interest for me!  I may be too familiar with it, though, because I kept feeling sort of like I’d already read this.  I’m reasonably sure I haven’t actually read it, but I can think of several books with similar elements.

There were some things a bit more unusual.  I liked the bond between Nancy and Minerva.  I liked the twin focus on both piracy and slavery.  I’ve read books about one or the other, but rarely seen them together, even though they were both going on in the same time and place, and even in the same shipping lanes.  I studied Jamaican history for a class in college and was fascinated by the Maroons, a group of escaped slaves and other society outcasts who lived inland in Jamaica.  I was also shocked that I’d done a lot of research on piracy (same time and place!) and never heard about them.  Somehow the stories don’t usually overlap–but they did here, as Nancy and Minerva got in with both groups, and I enjoyed seeing that.

I loved the references to historical pirates.  None of them showed up, even in cameos, but they were talked about, including Anne Bonney and Mary Read, the only two real life female pirates from the Golden Age.  This is actually set a few years after most of the greats had died, in the last year or two of the Golden Age (so that’s about 1724).

This was mostly historical fiction, not fantasy.  Bartholome has an uncanny ability to track Nancy after she runs away, and Nancy has some oddly prescient dreams about him, but I wouldn’t really define this as fantasy.  It’s more a suggestion that some of the native folklore has a little bit of truth in it.

This was an enjoyable book, good characters and an excellent setting…and I really don’t know why I liked it without loving it.  But at least now I know more about that tantalizing title–Pirates!

Author’s Site: http://www.celiarees.com/

Other reviews:
Curvy Writer
Em’s Bookshelf
Mommy Brain
Anyone else?

4 thoughts on “Pirates!

  1. dianem57

    Sounds like the author of this book did some serious research if she was able to intertwine information about pirates and slavery in her book, plus references to real-life pirates who lived in that place and time. That’s always good to see in historical fiction. I think it makes a book more real if the historical elements are referenced and woven into the story.

  2. I read this book quite a few years ago now (before my blog) but do remember enjoying it but like you not enough for a re-read so I passed my copy on to my mother. Unlike my copy of the Witch Child also by Celia Rees which I don’t think I could ever part with.

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s