George V. Reilly

Review: The Reverse of the Medal

The Reverse of the Medal
Title: The Reverse of the Medal
Author: Patrick O’Brian
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: W.W. Norton
Copyright: 1986
Pages: 286
Keywords: historical fiction
Aubrey-Maturin #11
Reading period: 20–25 April, 2008

This novel continues not long after The Far Side of the World left off. The Surprise stops off in Barbados, then chases an American privateer almost to England. Jack Aubrey, astute at sea, but a naïf on land, is hoodwinked into causing a run on the stock market, and brought to trial. Stephen Maturin finds that his wife has left him and that his former superior in Naval In­tel­li­gence has been sidelined.

O’Brian moves ef­fort­less­ly from a naval chase to the rural pleasures of Aubrey’s cottage to Regency politics, all written in a convincing eighteenth-century style. Aubrey and Maturin are emo­tion­al­ly true. Jack is the bluff English patriot whose un­shake­able faith in English justice will be severely tested. Stephen, the complex scientist, is beleagured by betrayals both personal and pro­fes­sion­al.

Highly rec­om­mend­ed.

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