Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman

When I pick up a novel it's for one of two main reasons: 1) I love the storyline, subject, or author and am dying to see what happens this time, or 2) it's strikingly unusual and different to anything I've seen before. This time it was reason #2.



Check out the back page blurb here.

I do like going for books with a new slant, and this one was interesting and not quite what I expected. I'm hard to impress, but this one has stayed in my mind, so that's a good thing, too. From the outset the settings are gorgeous and classy.

The book gets straight into the action and everything is easy to picture because we've seen similar scenes from Hollywood. Saphora is complex, but to me she also seemed a bit benign. For some reason she lacked fire and if she were real I'd feel like giving her a good shake. She accepts everything, rolls with the punches, and just gets on with it. As things progress, she's less willing to be walked all over and it was good to see how her growth and personal revelations came about. Others may view her differently, but this is my take.

Bender was also someone I wanted to give a good shake (obviously both husband and wife were well-written to elicit this response!). He's so bossy and absolutely typical of many of the folks in his social class. How he handles his illness is intriguing, and how he arrives at being so approchable and tolerant is not laid out like many other writers would do it. It seems Patricia resists the need to explain his responses so we can work it out for ourselves (thanks for giving us such credit :).

The husband is dying. He's obviously rethinking being a time-poor moron and so now enjoys every moment he's got while the family pours into the situation. We don't need to have it spelled out, and yet because the only background we have on Bender is what Saphora and everyone else thinks of him, his changes of heart are fast. It's Saphora's point of view.

It would have shaded in some more colour for me to have Saphora regret some of her own contributing behaviour more (scarcely raised). Bender is the instant bad guy for cheating and he seemed to write off his wife with little explanation. These two needed a marriage course much earlier in the piece (if they were real), but this is the way the story and life goes. It's a good highlight for what goes wrong when not enough is poured in and invested with relationships that matter, and also what can happen if a partner is or isn't willing for something to happen. Much of life gets left undone.

It is definitely time to say hello to life.

Tobias is the absolute hero of the book, in my mind. He's easy to disregard at his first entrance, but is a perfect example of what can happen in life if we go at it with eyes and ears open. I loved his character, and character he has. I also really enjoyed the quotes at the start of each chapter.

It's not your usual read, but that's what makes it worth picking up. There's a 13-Question Reader's Guide in the back, and it'd be interesting fodder for a book club discussion. Death is handled realistically, and in Bender's case, delicately. Grab a copy and give yourself some food for thought. Patricia's other titles (on her website) look equally as distracting.

PS~ Work on your marriage. Don't be a self-imposed victim of neglect.


"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." Proverbs 24v3,4


C'est par la sagesse qu'une maison s'élève, Et par l'intelligence qu'elle s'affermit;
C'est par la science que les chambres se remplissent De tous les biens précieux et agréables.

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