Aboard The Pirate: Roving the West Indies, by Veronica Cherry
So, today I got the next book from the Naval Historical Society to read, which is a historical novel by Veronica Cherry about a couple of lovers aboard a pirate ship that is apparently run by Jose Gaspar, from what I have seen from flipping through the book so far. Just because this needs to be said, I have sort of a hate/hate relationship with Jose Gaspar. For one, I’m not a particularly big fan of piracy, as I have blogged about on numerous occasions . Simply on philosophical grouds, I have a great abhorrence for piracy on grounds of theft and violence. However, I have something personal against Jose Gaspar because I grew up in the Tampa Bay area, and Jose Gaspar is so famous there that he has served as the excuse for a local festival of drunkeness and general immorality called the Gasparilla festival, where every year some boozers dressed up as pirates in vairous krewes (as they are styled in Tampa) participate in a mock bombardment of the city of Tampa and the mayor has to submit to their misrule. Also, there are a lot of drunken parades. Basically, Gasparilla is like Mardi Gras for Tampanians, of which I suppose I can be termed one. I have always been rather ashamed of that particular local custom, and never had any interested in participating in any aspect of it. So, the fact that this particular novel apparently deals with Jose Gaspar is a subject of considerable interest, to see whether piracy is somewhat romanticized or to see whether it is given its proper condemnation.
From what I can gather so far, this particular novel that I will be reviewing when I get the chance (it currently sits #4 on my book queue, of which #1 should be done and reviewed tonight for the De Re Militari). Hopefully, I will get to it this week, as long as this week is better for reading than last week was, when I kept falling asleep while reading about Renaissance monarchs or dreaming about hugs. Anyway, I digress. The novel is about 400 pages, and so it had better be a good one to hold my attention. The premise, at least from what I can gather, is that there is a bit of timey wimey action going on here, as two Coast Guardsmen who are fighting against drug smuggling are sent back in time between 1816 and 1825, where they witness piracy in the Gulf and Caribbean areas of North America. Also, there is some sort of conflict and eventual romantic relationship between a twelve-year old beggar girl who is a stowaway pretending to be a boy and a fourteen year-old midshipmen. There is also apparently some kind of action involving the slave trade and its interdiction. In a nutshell, it looks like a historical romance that includes a lot of very scary events happening to young people, which sounds pretty much like my life and that of some other young people that I know. I have at least some hopes that this novel will be of personal interest, so that I will be able to write a glowing review. Doing a bit of research, some of the readers have been a bit disappointed (to put it mildly) with the lewd jokes scattered throughout the book. I have to admit I do not look forward to that, but given the subject matter of the novel, I suppose the author wanted to make it somewhat grimly realistic, an approach I have often used in my own writing.
The authoress included a lovely handwritten card to the fellow who sent me the book (and the other books I have reviewed for the Naval Historical Institute), and he left the card in the book, which adds a bit of presentation value to the piece. Ms. Cherry has written at least a couple of books before, both of which increase my interest in this project a bit. First, she wrote an autobiogrpahy called By Hook or by Crook: A Tale of Adventure Surviving Child Abuse. Given my own personal history, there is clearly a lot of common ground between her own childhood and my own, which perhaps accounts for the common interest in piracy and slavery and children in danger. She also has written articles, including one for a windsurfing magazine, and has written an action-packed novel called A Call to Mind. So, here’s hoping this is a good book; it is certainly a longer one than the novels I tend to enjoy reading the most.
 Here is a short selection of posts on the subject that I have written: