Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack, #1) by L.A. Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
So much better than typical "pirate romance" stories. Since it's a teen YA book there are fewer heaving bosoms. It would, however, qualify as a "kissing book" by The Princess Bride criteria, but it's a sweet one. The heroine disguises herself as a ship's boy to escape a horrible life as a London street urchin in the late 1790s. The fact that she finds the grim life on board a Royal Navy ship a walk in the park compared to begging and stealing on land tells you how horrible her former life must have been.
The story is well-written and paced. Here are several of my favorite passages:
Attending a shipboard sermon:
"A weedy little clerk what was on the dock the first day turns out to be a preacher, too, and after a few songs and some prayers, he gets up behind the box and tells us what rascals we all are, and how Jesus wants us to turn to the right path, and I think as how I always turn to the path that will most likely get me out of a scrape and I hopes that's the path he means."
Before going ashore in Palma:
"...I can't wait to get ashore. But not for oranges. We fidget and wait.
I know the men are anxious as well. They've been in a state of high hilarity the whole time since we set course for this place. They were barely able to contain themselves during the last Church we had, with the Deacon warning about loose women and vile vessels and evil seductresses and such, and working himself up into a fine froth. I don't think it made much of an impression on the men, though, for all that.
The Professor put his two pence in with the words for yesterday being debauchery, dissipation, and wantonness. I've a feeling that me and my sisters do not have a high standing in the worlds of religion and learning."
Shipboard lessons for the boys:
"Hamlet was a good one. I thought the deceptions in that one were pretty well thought up. Shakespeare and I could have come up with a couple of corkers together, I'll wager. Poor Ophelia, though. It's always the girl what gets it, be it song or story. Or play. 'Course they all gets it in the end and it serves that Hamlet right, he who could have had the love of a good girl and been prince and all, but, no..."
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