BookBrowse Reviews The Pirate's Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson

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The Pirate's Daughter

by Margaret Cezair-Thompson

The Pirate's Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2007, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2008, 432 pages

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A saga of a mother and daughter finding their way in Jamaica as it struggles to rise to the challenge of independence

Margaret Cezair-Thompson's second book (following The True History of Paradise) is a mother-daughter coming-of-age saga set against the turbulent backdrop of post-Independence Jamaica. Inspired by a few facts from Errol Flynn's life, and rooting her story firmly in Jamaican history, Cezair-Thompson vividly imagines the life of Ida, who is little more than a child herself when she gives birth to her daughter May, the illegitimate child of 1930/40s movie star Errol Flynn - known as a swashbuckling adventurer on screen, and for his glittering parties and affairs off screen. Most of the action takes place in Jamaica, but even when Ida leaves the island for some years the author stays true to the Jamaican experience because, for at least a century, one of Jamaica's primary exports has been its people.

Dishing the dirt on Errol Flynn is the hook that will likely catch many reader's interest in The Pirate's Daughter but, as the author, a native of Jamaica, explains, his role in the book is in many ways peripheral to the story - he is a symbol as much as a character, representing the "imperial wanderlust".

Published in hardcover by independent publisher Unbridled Books, The Pirate's Daughter was poorly covered by mainstream reviewers both pre and post publication, but the grass-roots enthusiasm was substantial, with the American Booksellers Association (the national association for independent booksellers) naming The Pirate's Daughter their top "BookSense" recommendation for October 2007. The recently released paperback is published by Random House, who bought paperback rights from Unbridled Books.


Member Reviews
Twenty BookBrowse Members received review copies of The Pirate's Daughter. Seventeen posted reviews with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5. Here are a selection of the reviewers' comments, which you can read in full here:

"Combining the sultry, yet exciting, atmosphere of Jamaica with the glamour of "Old Hollywood", this novel evokes feelings that are both unsettling and nostalgic. The characters are as rich and varied as the setting, and in their search for themselves, the women, especially, come to life - you will remember May and Ida long after the book is finished. Both of them, coming of age a generation apart, weave relationships and intrigues that will fascinate the reader." - Sue.

"I expected to enjoy this book, but it surpassed my highest expectations. This is a fabulous read that I will recommend to everyone. The chapters fly by - a compelling story, well-drawn characters, believable dialogue, fantastic sense of place -- all work seamlessly together to make one of the most enjoyable books in a long, long time. Bravo to Margaret Cezair-Thompson for a real treasure. Grab this one and enjoy!" - Beth.

"It was with trepidation that I began reading this book as I usually do not like books that contain what I call gimmicks. This turned out to be an intriguing intergenerational historical novel about the beginning of the independence of Jamaica which coincided with the growing independence of a mother and daughter. The characters were richly portrayed and the inclusion of Erroll Flynn was an added enjoyment. Baby Boomers have long known who Erroll Flynn was, but knew little about him. This showed a side of the movie star that aroused curiosity and interest. Dialect and dialogue made me feel as though I, too, were there at the scene. I highly recommend this book to people who like historical fiction and who appreciate a well written novel." - Laura.

As always, you can read an excerpt from the book, and the full range of reviews at BookBrowse which, in combination with the biography and interview also at BookBrowse, will give you all you could possibly want to know about what is likely to be one of this Fall's 'big books'.

About The Author
Margaret Cezair-Thompson was born in Jamaica, West Indies, and came of age as Jamaica emerged from being a British colony to being an independent nation. She left Jamaica at nineteen-years-old to attend Barnard College in New York where she received a B.A. in English. She received her Ph.D. in English from the City University of New York with a dissertation on V.S. Naipaul. Since 1990, she has taught literature and creative writing at Wellesley College. More.


Interesting Links

Ida lives in Port Antonio, which is located on the Eastern tip of Jamaica. During the 1950s, Errol Flynn owned Navy Island, which got its name from the British Navel base which was set up there in the 18th century to protect Port Antonio and to service ships. Until recently, Navy Island was maintained as a tourist resort and attraction, with a club bar, beaches, watersports facilities, marina, wedding chapel and African style cottages; but it is now closed to the general public.

This review was originally published in October 2007, and has been updated for the August 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



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