Patrick O'Brian: A Life Revealed by Dean King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Patrick O'Brian is the Irish writer of the Master & Commander series, who isn't Irish.
Patrick O'Brian had nothing to do with World War II...except he was a spy.
Patrick O'Brian isn't Patrick O'Brian.
There is a great deal of secrecy and veiled history for such a seemingly benign author of such a pleasant literary series of polite manners and seafaring adventure set during the Napoleonic Wars. I fell in love with that "Aubrey/Maturin" series years ago, read it over numerous times and moved on to other works by the author. At some point I wanted to know more. Dean King, who has written a number of books about O'Brian and his work, clearly also fell in love with the author. You really feel it in his approach.
I'm glad he made the attempt at this difficult task. It couldn't have been easy. So little is known about the man, because the man wanted little to be known about himself. In an effort to distance himself from a less than ideal upbringing, family and flawed marriage, he moved overseas and took on a new personae and detested anyone who defied it, even his loving brother. This seems to have rubbed off on some of his fans, who have not taken kindly to King's intrusion and revelations about their favorite author.
Patrick O'Brian: A Life Revealed does a fantastic job keeping the timeline in order and moving along. A parallel was made to O'Brian's books and especially the series he's known for. Almost all of the books are given a little synopsis and imbued with historical significance as relates to the author. In fact, it took me as long as it did to read this because I found myself setting it aside to read other O'Brian books that I hadn't gotten to yet. That was fun, but it did make this lengthy tome seem even longer. I'd imagine it would probably seem a chore to anyone other than an O'Brian fan, but for the hardcore among us this is highly recommended!
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