Pirates have for decades had a sort of pantomime feel to them especially in literature. Thanks to the likes of Long John Silver, Captain Pugwash, parrots and pieces of eight. But in reality they never lost their fearsome bloodlust, they just started wearing t-shirts and cut-off jeans , dumped cutlasses for Uzi’s and AK 47’s and made the coast of Somalia a no go area, thanks to the reach of 24/7 news. While on the silver screen, the swashbuckler’s of old had lost their appeal until Disney and Captain Jack Sparrow, allowed them to remerge and capture a new audience. But before Johnny Depp, there were a few very successful pirate actors. The off screen life of one of them, Errol Flynn is the basis for Margaret Cezair Thompson’s book, ‘The Pirates Daughter’.
Cezair Thompson’s second book tells the story of a young Jamaican girl called Ida Joseph, who is lives a simple life on the Caribbean island in 1946 when Hollywood film star Errol Flynn is run aground in his boat during a hurricane. He immediately falls in love with the island and with the help of Ida’s dad, Eli, a local entrepreneur cum ‘Delboy’. He sets up home and starts bringing the cream of Hollywood to the island as well as his playboy antics. He soon charms the young teen and ends up getting her pregnant. But then he goes back to America to film and when he returns he’s married to another woman and goes about avoiding her. The book goes on to tell the story of how she strives to raise her daughter May and get on with their lives with the ghost like presence of Flynn in the background, even in death.
The writing in the book is very descriptive and immediately immerses you into the tropical, spice rich life of Jamaica. This was a sentiment expressed by the book group when it was presented recently. It comes across as a well researched piece of fiction, which it is but that’s a grey area as the life and loves of Errol were numerous and regularly got him in trouble. But where the book falls down is that it is overrun with characters and on a number of occasions I found myself getting slightly waylaid while trying to figure out who was who.
Something else myself and the other members of the group agreed on, was that this book was about a hundred pages too long. I personally think the book loses its sole purpose when the central character is killed off. Not Errol’s fault just Cezair Thompson’s mis-alignment of the story chronologically and her clumsy attempts to wing some sort of a romantic story on the memory of Errol Flynn.
So before you set sail in this book, beware it’s more a slow boat to china then a fanciful adventure based on the sordid rum soaked later life of a movie icon.
(First published http://www.murphysview.blogspot.com 2012)