20 Dec 2011



A fourteen-year-old boy, John Jacob Turnstile, has got into trouble with the police on one too many occasions and is on his way to prison when an offer is put to him - a ship has been refitted over the last few months and is about to set sail with an important mission. The boy who was expected to serve as the captain's personal valet has been injured and a replacement must be found immediately. The deal is struck and Turnstile finds himself on board, meeting the captain just as the ship sets sail.

The ship is HMS Bounty: the captain is William Bligh and their destination is Tahiti.
....... Inner front cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): There was once a gentleman, a tall fellow with an air of superiority about him, who made it his business to come down to the marketplace in Portsmouth on the first Sunday of every month in order to replenish his library.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 89):"That's not the men screaming, you damned fool," he said. "Good lord, lad, don't you recognise the pipe of the wind yet? It's sweeping across the decks, challenging us, daring us to go further. The screams are its battle-cry! The roar its strength! Know you nothing of the sea yet?"

KEEP IT OR NOT?: A reading group read, I went out and purchased this copy such was my enjoyment of the book.

As I said a reading group read, I must confess that when I saw we were going to be reading this my first response was not favourable. But hang on a minute ......... this was a new take on the story, written by none other than John Boyne, author of THE BOY IN THE BLUE STRIPED PYJAMAS, which I loved.

Hmm, I'm reminded of 'Olive Twist'  to start with as we meet John Jacob Turnstile, orphan and pickpocket, who suffice to say has a choice to make after being caught, err, liberating the pocket watch of a French gentleman.

Not giving away too much, Turnstile (soon to also become known as Turnip) finds himself aboard HMS Bounty under the captaincy of one Lieutenant William Bligh.

Different from many of the film versions I've watched (I can't comment on any of the books never having read any) in Boyne's novel Bligh rather than the usually portrayed abusive, somewhat cruel individual is portrayed as a rather stubborn but kindly, often lenient, man who takes a particular interest in the young Turnstile.

Ah yes, Turnip. I found this character particularly engaging and loved how his story saw him develop from an abused boy to a young man whose experiences on board The Bounty and respect of Bligh was to transform his life, colouring everything he did.

Based of course on a real event (you can read more HERE) this fictional account was so well written that I could well believe it was an actual account. Pretty harrowing at times (especially the passages dealing with events after the mutiny)it was nevertheless funny, heartwarming, and life confirming. Filling the reader with hope, it was a very descriptive read, at times brutal, and often claustrophobic, a book I'm so glad I read.

The 106th book read for my 100+ Reading Challenge, this was a real good rollicking yarn, story telling at its best.


Arti said...

Looks like a gripping read. And your review is just as gripping Tracy.
Loved the character of Turnip, very colorful.
Have a wonderful week ahead:)

Patti said...

I don't think I would have been excited either, but sounds like it was a good pick.

Did I mention I really like your reviews.

Hope you have a great Christmas.

GMR said...

Sounds good....I'm convinced. Adding to my future wish list now... ^_^

R. Ramesh said...

at times brutal, and often claustrophobic..haha good one tracy...have fun dear friend..

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Okay, you convinced me. I so need to read this one. I'm curious! I didn't even know Boyne wrote this. It's on the wishlist!

StarTraci said...

Wow! I would never have given this a second look but after this review, I am intrigued. Looks like a good read!


P.S. Congrats on exceeding the challenge. I've read about five books completely and about six halves, so I am jealous!

Kelly said...

Perhaps I should put this on my wishlist, too. Though familiar with the actual event, I've never read an account of it nor even seen a theatrical version. Sounds like this would be a good introduction.

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

brilliant review as usual.

sounds good...although this is not my favourite genre i'm afraid.


Suko said...

Excellent review! I read this a long while ago but you brought it back to life for me!

naida said...

Sounds fantastic, glad you enjoyed it.