Thursday, February 13, 2014
"Mutiny on the Bounty", by John Boyne
In a few words this is what happened to the ill-fated ship: After a long voyage on the high seas and a short stay on a sexy Polynesian paradise, the screw revolted, a mutiny led by Fletcher Christian erupted, the breadfruit-laden Bounty was seized shortly after leaving Otaheite (Tahiti) in April 1789, and the captain, William Bligh, with his followers were set adrift in a boat to fight for their lives. Miraculously the captain led his small screw back to England to a hero’s welcome and the hunt for the mutineers began and those found were rounded up and tried in London.
In this novel, the real –life John Smith, Captain Bligh’s steward, was replaced by John Jacob Turnstile, a fourteen year old street urchin who was given the choice of a year in the goal or taken service aboard the Bounty. Through John Jacob’s (Turnip) eyes we travel from the streets of Port Portmouth to a myriad of adventures. His character is a brilliant creation with a charming sharp sense of humour and the most delightful egotistical narrator.
This book is captivating, it is expertly written to describe with heart the sailing and those aboard the Bounty and with skill guides us during the 48 days the 23 foot launch held the starving men till they reached Timor. It also deals with the sexual frustration of sailors at sea, the root of their mutiny after enjoying the delights of the native women and forced to return to the ship and leave them behind. Mr. Boyne style flows smoothly and allows for the most vivid, fresh images to filter into our mind. Although I have a strong sense that historical record may have been modified to make this story the most enjoyable of fiction.