Hello there, bookworm, come in out of the rain. You’re just in time for some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies which I took out of the oven a moment ago. They’re the perfect treat on a miserable day, like a sweet hug for your tastebuds. Here’s a hot cup of tea to go with them – I promise I won’t judge you if you dunk them! Now that you’re settled, I must tell you about a book I’ve just finished called Wayward Voyage.
Firstly, here’s the blurb: Anne is a headstrong young girl growing up in the frontier colony of Carolina in the early eighteenthcentury. With the death of her mother, and others she holds dear, Anne discovers that life is uncertain, so best live it to the full. She rejects the confines of conventional society and runs away to sea, finding herself in The Bahamas, which has become a nest for pirates plaguing the West Indies. Increasingly dissatisfied with her life, Anne meets a charismatic former pirate, John ‘Calico Jack’ Rackham, and persuades him to take up pirating again, and she won’t be left onshore. The Golden Age of Piracy is a period when frontiers were being explored and boundaries pushed. Wayward Voyage creates a vivid and gritty picture of colonial life in the Americas and at sea.
Now, here’s a little about the author: Anna is originally from New Zealand and lives in the U.K. with her Dutch partner.
Wayward Voyage is Anna’s first novel. She has been fascinated by the lives of women pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read, for a long time. Some years ago, she visualised this story as a screenplay before exploring and building their world more deeply as a novel. Wayward Voyage made a longlist of 11 for the Virginia Prize in Women’s Fiction 2020.
Blind Eye, an eco-thriller, will be published by The Book Guild in September, so this year, 2021, Anna will have two novels coming out. Her screenplay, Blind Eye is joint winner of the 2020 Green Stories screenplay competition.
A documentary about pioneers of flamenco in the UK that Anna produced and directed was screened in Marbella International Film Festival and in London. This passion project ensures a slice of cultural history has been captured. It is available on YouTube and via a portal on her website.
She holds a Humanities B.A, a post-graduate diploma in Journalism and an M.A. in Dance Studies. Initially she worked as a radio journalist before a career in arts management working with U.K. Arts Councils and as an independent producer, dance history lecturer and she has run a dance development agency.
Anna is a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher and enjoys practising flamenco. Writing, dance, and yoga shape her life.
And here’s my review: I didn’t realise at the time of reading this book that it was based around the lives of real people in pirating history. I find it interesting when an author takes a long deceased person and brings them back to life on the page through their research and fact checking. Not to mention the imagination that’s required too in order to make the character believable.
I didn’t take to Anne Bonny, the main female protagonist, at first. It’s possibly because I felt she came across as entitled, spoiled and immature. She seemed to lack emotion until near the end of the book during a particularly poignant scene which I won’t describe to avoid spoilers. After leaving her father’s plantation and being somewhat underwhelmed by life with the seaman she took as her husband, her path eventually crossed with that of Calico Jack, a larger than life pirate who plundered the Caribbean with his crew.
I enjoyed the way the novel started by following Anne, then was interspersed with chapters following Jack on his path to piracy before adding Mary Read, also known as Mark, to the mix. Calico Jack’s swagger made him rather endearing to me in an 18th century bad boy sort of way. Allowing Anne to board his ship was a risky manoevre at a time when women were seen as bad luck at sea and I respected him for doing so.
Mary’s story was fascinating, hiding herself in plain sight by binding her breasts and passing herself off as a man in everything from appearance to fighting prowess. I think she was my favourite character, with her fierce loyalty and bravery.
I knew the story wasn’t going to end well and if I could have peeped through my fingers at some parts, I would have done as I waited for the crew’s misdeeds and crimes to catch up with them. Some of the battle scenes were so well described that I could almost see them in all their brutal detail. Part of me wanted Calico Jack and his motley crew to get away with it, to sail off into the sunset with their loot as piracy became ever more rigidly outlawed and dangerous. I enjoyed reading the vivid descriptions of the different places Anne made her home, both on land and at sea, and it’s given me a thirst for travelling again.
All in all, this tale was well told in my opinion and although I didn’t particularly relate to Anne’s character, I’ve found reading up on her, Mary and Jack’s real life exploits fascinating. I’m giving this 3 1/2 stars and recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with strong women in it.
If you would like to purchase a copy for yourself, just click on the book image above to go to the relevant page on Amazon. I don’t receive anything for providing the link, I’m just being a helpful bookworm. Thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel’s Random Resources for the digital copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.
Well, bookworm, it’s been lovely but duty calls. One of the downsides to a mystical library is when fiction bleeds into reality and a wave has just sloshed out of Wayward Voyage on to the floor of the historical fiction section. I’d better go and mop it up before they send a delegation of landowners to complain… Until next time, bookworm, farewell!