The French Prize|
Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2015, 323pp, HC, $26.99
Prepare to wash the salt off your face within minutes of boarding the American merchant vessel, Abigail! Her owner was a hero in the war for independence. Son, Jack, a first time captain is only nineteen. You might expect the tale to be about the follies of a first time well-born young pup and you'd be wrong. He is savvy, watchful and well aware that the ship will go nowhere without the crew. The only real problem aboard are two meddling passengers who, because of their social station think they know more than the young captain. (We all have some of those in our lives.) Jack minds his manners and bites his tongue.
We are headed for the Caribbean...a very pleasant thought this time of year. Nelson's descriptions of the journey are just plain delicious. He appeals to all our senses, including our sense of balance. He puts the reader on the boat...working on the deck and in the rigging as well as below deck...coasting along.
All goes well until it inevitably does not. The French have been taking prizes of American merchant vessels and Abigail falls prey to one and the plot thickens and that's all I'm going to say about that.
This is the first book by James Nelson that I have read. (Where have I been?) I have become an instant fan. I tend to avoid war stories but in this case the plot is so nuanced and the prose just flows along...dare I say, like an ocean wave. The French Prize was a totally enjoyable cruise even if there were a few dust-ups; they were all, inevitably, for the good.