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The Spithead Nymph (The Sea Officer William Bentley Novels)

Jan Needle

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ISBN 10: 1590130774 / ISBN 13: 9781590130773
Published by McBooks Press, 2004
New Condition: New Soft cover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Spithead Nymph (The Sea Officer William ...

Publisher: McBooks Press

Publication Date: 2004

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:New

Edition: First American Edition.

About this title


Midshipman William Bentley awaits trial on charges of treason—until he is offered the chance to avoid prison by serving as first lieutenant to Richard Kaye, now captain of Will's old ship Biter. Will accepts and begins a harrowing journey to Jamaica, unaware that the woman he loves has been sold as an indentured servant to a depraved Jamaican planter.

From the Publisher:

The Sea Officer William Bentley novels are gritty, noir-inspired sea adventures whose unrelenting realism plumbs the depths of shipboard life in the Age of Sail. Here, Jan Needle speaks about the impetus that drives his novels—

Behind the Myths: Why I Write Nautical Fiction
By Jan Needle

I started reading nautical fiction at an early age for all the usual romantic reasons: clean- cut midshipmen, who by bravery and brilliance rose up the ladder of promotion to the very top, thwarting enemies and fate until their courage and wisdom enriched their men, their country, and indeed the world. It was marvelous, really—and I believed it all. My father was a deckhand on Fleet Auxiliary ships when I was born in Portsmouth during World War II, and my Uncle Ron a decorated navy hero. The sea and boats became my overwhelming passions.

But as I grew, perceptions changed. The truth, I learned, was deeply complex. Uncle Ron was a hero certainly—but he was merely a stoker, third class. When the war was over he was out. That’s it, mister. Find a job. And his brother, my Uncle Les, was a conscientious objector, but Ron insisted Les was the braver man by far. My father and uncles also held all officers in deep contempt, although some, quite clearly, were brave, compassionate, extraordinary. My problem with the "Heroic Age of Sail," I realised, was not that the officers were all seen as noble heroes, and that the men were hardly seen at all, but that, because of the romantic gloss, none of them was truly believable. As to the women characters—well, to put it at its mildest, they were only well-rounded in one sense.

What I am trying to do in my books is to get behind this myth, to show an age of desperate, ruthless struggle. In the eighteenth century, the British Navy carved out, with blood and violence, a huge portion of the world. The losses were enormous—but not from warfare, mainly. Firstly came disease, then accident: the peril of the sea. And life on land was not much better. My heroine, Deb Tomelty, a hatter girl, runs incautiously away with her friend because she needs excitement. Within months her friend is dead, and Deb is a whore. It happened; it happened all the time. Not all the men were heroes, not all the maids were captivating ladies, not all the dreams of Portsmouth boys turn out to be quite true. The romance is not dead for me, though—it exists in the hard, bitter lives of my characters as I follow them to see where they will lead. And I remember my uncles Ron and Les, and my father. Surely heroes, too?

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