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 Jay Worrall: "Any Approaching Enemy" 
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Post Jay Worrall: "Any Approaching Enemy"
Jay Worrall: "Any Approaching Enemy"

This is the second book in Worrall’s "Charles Edgemont" series -- the first being "Sails on the Horizon" CLICK HERE for the thread for that book.

I enjoyed this book as much as the first one. Once again the author has picked a major sea-battle (Nile) as his focus. There is plenty of frigate-to-frigate action leading up to the battle and some interesting characters, mostly female. Edgemont’s wife, Penny, is certainly the strongest character in this book and one of the most interesting characters, man or woman, in most books. Her Quaker beliefs continue to offer a sane commentary to the often horrific acts of war. She has a very strong and organized mind leaving her husband to wonder who is in charge, in their lives and in his ship. My vote goes to Penny. The other interesting female character is Molly – an ex-doxie who has become Penny’s companion and close friend and who has some surprising talents.

As the author did in his first book (Hornblower/Forester), he once again includes a tribute to a major AoS fiction writer. This time Lt. Jack Aubrey (O’Brian) takes a brief bow. I like this tribute tradition in this series and hope that Worrall continues it.

One line in this novel that caused me to chuckle is Edgemont’s first comment after agreeing to become the temporary father of a four year old French girl, Claudette. He turns to the little girl then seated for dinner and says "mangez votre legumes." I wonder how many children have been told over the centuries to "eat your peas." My mom once tried to convince me that peas contained mashed potatoes in order to entice me to eat mine. She failed. :D

SPOILERS below





Since Worrall had his main character do some untypical things in his first book – like take his complete crew home with him, I was on the lookout for additional incidents in this book. Having Penny travel to Naples during wartime, specifically against Jervis’ direction, in an attempt to visit her husband was really bizarre. At least I thought so when she first showed up. However, by the time she returned home, Worrall had developed her character to the point that I could almost believe it.

Another strange thing was when Edgemont’s frigate lights her fires to prepare food while the battle of the Nile rages just 100 yards from that frigate. It was not normal meal time either. Weird. Having a French Captain take his four year old daughter to sea during wartime was more than a little strange too.

Having Edgemont capture a detailed map of Aboukir Bay and "lead the charge" along the shore was pure fiction of course. It was interesting in an alternative-universe kind of way, but reality was pretty interesting in its own right. I realize that this was not a documentary and a fiction writer can take liberties, but this seemed to distract from the skills of Nelson and probably will gather some criticism.

It is coincidental that there is a recent thread here concerning the way that the "L’Orient" exploded and for that same event to be the climax of this book. Worrall used his imagination to good effect and offered a decent "could have been." CLICK HERE for the L'Orient thread.

Don


Sun Jun 11, 2006 5:57 pm
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