O’Brian, Patrick: (07) The Surgeon’s Mate (spoilers)

This post contains SPOILERS for The Surgeon’s Mate. Here’s the non-spoiler post if you got here by mistake.

[Originally posted at my LiveJournal while this booklog was down.]

Well, Stephen and Diana are married. It doesn’t take any great psychological insight to tell that this is not the end of their difficulties; a book that starts out with Miss Smith (you should’ve heard me yelling at Jack over that one in the car) and has them married on HMS Oedipus, for goodness’ sake, makes that more than clear. (I will accept prostrating sea-sickness as an acceptable way to get out of bearing Johnson’s child.)

I was so very amused that Stephen is a terrible public speaker. And relieved that he didn’t display another talent.

Is the dyslexic Lieutenant really responsible for the crash? Surely the hands would know what to expect and what he meant, rather than just blindly listen to larboard or starboard?

When I mentioned secondary characters and criss-crossing—of course Miss Smith would snag marriage there in Canada over money sent intermittently from after, and of course Johnson would show up in Paris.

Jack getting them to clean the prison apartment was very funny. The escape was lovely in all its parts—I’ve been reading Engineering in the Ancient World and Jack’s contrivance reminded me of that. I’ll have to look up Talleyrand—I know he was quite the player in any number of sense of the word, but I don’t know whether his machinations here were historical or had any effect.


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  1. Talleyrand was amazing. He really is the force behind the reshaping of Europe. It is even more astonishing that there are no really good biographies of him…he doesn’t fit neatly into any mold, and tends to be overlooked.
    I wish I could get my french up to speed so I could read his memoirs, which haven’t even been translated.

  2. I know him from another historical novel, Katherine Neville’s _The Eight_ (which I suspect, in retrospect, of not being very historically accurate–fun, though), and from a chess set (in some story or another) where he was a piece on both sides. =>
    (What I really want is a O’Brian companion that points out everything that’s historical and everything that diverges from history, but that would be, err, lengthy.)

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