Monday, 2 March 2009

Book Review: The Pirate's Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson

Genre: Fiction
Headline Publishing Group
Pages: 512


An unforgettable story of love and adventure, spanning three decades of Jamaican history.Jamaica, 1946.; Errol Flynn washes up on in the Zaca", his storm-wrecked yacht.; Ida Joseph, the teenaged daughter of Port Antonio's Justice of the Peace, is intrigued to learn that the 'World's Handsomest Man' is on the island, and makes it her business to meet him.;For the jaded swashbuckler, Jamaica is a tropical paradise that Ida, unfazed by his celebrity, seems to share.;Soon Flynn has made a home for himself on Navy Island, where he entertains the cream of Hollywood at parties;that become a byword for decadence; - and;Ida has set her heart on marrying this charismatic older man who has singled her out for his attention.; Flynn and Ida do not marry, but Ida bears Flynn a daughter, May, who will meet her father but once.; The Pirate's Daughter" is a tale of passion and recklessness, of two generations of women and their battles for love and survivial, and of a nation struggling to rise to the challenge of hard-won independence.

For 14 year old Ida Joseph growing up in Jamaica in the 1940's, Errol Flynn brings the glamour and glitz of Hollywood to the small town where she lives. She can see Navy Island (which is about a mile from the coast) from her house and she loves the stories associated with it of Captain Bligh and Pirates and buried Treasure and of a ghost that walks the island, Sabine.

Her father becomes friends with Flynn and Ida meets his several times over the course of the next few years and, when she is 16, they become lovers. For Ida, he is the love of her life and she never stops loving him. For him, she is probably no-one special, just another one of his many conquests.

The author does not judge Flynn or his way of life, that is left to the reader to make their own mind up.

Ida then becomes pregnant with Flynn's daughter, May, the Pirate's daughter of the book's title. The second part of the book is concerned with May and how her mother struggles to bring up her daughter and look after her sick father. To do this, Ida goes to New York to earn some money, when May is 3. She comes back after a few years and the mother and daughter have to learn to get to know each other again and adjust to life together. All the while, knowing that Errol Flynn is living on Navy Island just a short taxi-boat ride away.............

The book also deals with serious issues of the violence surrounding Jamaica's independence and of how close to home it becomes.
I loved the descriptions of the Jamaican way of life, the food they ate, the mountains where Ida's grandmother lived where you had to ride on a donkey cart to reach her house!

An enjoyable read.

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