This is a book I’ve had my eye on for a while, mostly because the cover looked interesting and because it had pirate in the title… As it turned out it wasn’t about an actual pirate, but I knew that before I got round to reading it.
The book is about two women – Ida, who meets the actor Errol Flynn as a young girl in Jamaica, and May, the daughter she had with Flynn. It switches main characters about halfway through and one of the things that impressed me most about the book is the way the switch is made – you don’t really notice it happening, and then suddenly realise the story is about a different person. I thought that made it a very skillful piece of writing.
The book is reasonably long at almost 500 pages but never gets heavy or bogged down. Both women’s lives, though very different in many ways, are fascinating and the landscape of Jamaica is captured really well (at least I think it is, I’ve never actually been there). It’s set against a backdrop of huge upheaval but that never intrudes on the story. This means that when the family are faced with the reality of the situation it’s still quite shocking, even though you knew what was going on in the background.
I really liked both Ida and May, and would like to read more about Ida as she is in the latter part of the book. I guess that’s one downside to the novel switching points of view but I actually think that worked well to keep the story fresh. There are a huge number of supporting characters that you warm to immediately, particularly Ida’s father Eli and May’s friend Derek. It doesn’t shy away from any of the difficult subject matter but neither is it allowed to overtake the story.
Overall I really enjoyed this, worth getting your teeth into.