Over previous months I’ve been celebrating the earlier titles in the Kydd Series, it’s Caribbee for this blog. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the book, either as a first-time reader or if you’re a re-reader and have read it more than once! It’s very gratifying for an author to be told that his work has inspired people to go back and read it again. And some of you have told me you have done this more than twice! Either reply to this blog or email me with your thoughts on Caribbee. Kathy and I are always very busy on location research for the Kydd books and our trip to the West Indies was no exception. We spent most time in three main locations – Jamaica, Guadeloupe and Antigua – but as you can see, there was the odd moment of relaxation (see if you can spot Kathy’s foot…)
This book has generated a number of wonderful reviews. Here are just two:
‘In the first book in his series of Kydd and Renzi tales Kydd was a young Guildford wigmaker who was taken by the press gang to serve as a sailor in the Royal Navy. The basic idea behind the stories was unique, featuring two young men from very different backgrounds who came together as tie mates. Previously, all of the great fictional stories set in the naval world of the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars featured a hero who began as a Midshipman and rose through the Commissioned ranks to Post Captain or Admiral. Forrester, Kent, Pope, O’Brian all wrote outstanding tales around their commissioned heroes and entertained generations, prompting films based on their writing. From an unique starting point, Stockwin has become another member of the band of naval fiction writers who have achieved the highest standards of story telling. This story in the series is yet another compulsive page turner that will sell very well, attract new readers, and reward loyal fans. In this tale, Kydd is now a Post Captain in command of a light frigate L’Aurore with his old friend Renzi still at his side as Captain’s Secretary, a retired naval officer striving to become an author. In this tale Renzi is again playing the spy and the ship and her people have reached the Caribbean after their adventures in South America with the expedition to liberate Spanish colonies. Kydd has been sent to the Caribbean to plead for reinforcements to enable the success of the expedition. Fate takes a different hand and our heroes are plunged into a new set of adventures with highs and lows worthy of Stockwin’s style and earlier books.’ — Firetrench
‘A plot rich in sailing lore, pirate raids, vengeful spies, and shipboard discontent enlivens Julian Stockwin’s fourteenth book in the Thomas Kydd series, Caribbee. Assigned to the Leeward Islands of the early nineteenth-century Caribbean, Captain Kydd commands L’Aurore, a frigate of the British Royal Navy. Returning to this idyllic archipelago rekindles memories of youthful experiences for Kydd and his trusted friend and confidential secretary, Nicholas Renzi. Their ship cruises the waters, searching for pirate ships intent on robbing British vessels of cane sugar destined for European markets. Suspected French naval presence in the islands may mean retaliatory action spurred by Admiral Horatio Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar.
A parallel plot involves the tyrannical captain of another British ship whose crew threatens mutiny. In pursuit of French ships during a hurricane, a shattered mast leaves L’Aurore at the storm’s mercy. Stockwin skillfully describes the high drama of captain and crew working to save themselves and the ship. Using a seaman’s instinctual sixth sense, Kydd pictures the tautly spread awning on the ship’s quarterdeck while at anchor and realizes it can be used as a sail.
Colourful, well-drawn characters of all types contribute to this book’s appeal. Stockwin’s skill with characterization serves him equally well in the female character of Madame Louise Vernou, a friend of Renzi’s from earlier visits to Guadeloupe. Renzi enlists Louise’s help, and her determined spirit helps them infiltrate the elusive French spy ring. Seeing the local grocer taking food daily to the nearby island of Marie Galante, Louise suggests a plan: “I will supply them with the gourmandises every French man desires. You will be my porter.”
Elements of good fiction and historical fact meld in Caribbee. Logical scene transitions, subtle foreshadowing of events, believable character interaction, and a satisfying conclusion to the plot all contribute to the book’s readability. The author’s endnotes explain the political and cultural atmosphere of the English Caribbean islands of Georgian times, as does a glossary of words related to naval and economic activities.’ — Foreword
And have you tried the Stockwin Signature Rum Punch?
One part sour (lemon or lime juice)
Two parts sweet (sugar or syrup)
Three parts strong (dark rum)
Four parts weak (water)
Grated nutmeg to taste
Serve well chilled with ice
Be warned; they’re addictive!
Previous blog on Caribbee CARIBBEE: A return to turquoise seas
CARIBBEE has been published in the UK/US in English, in translated editions and in ebook, large print and audiobook.
Buy on Amazon or The Book Depository (free postage worldwide!) Also available at most bookstores.