PETER SIMPLE by Frederick Marryat


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paper 0-8050-5565-7 The enduring popularity of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels has fortuitously stimulated Norton’s new Heart of Oak Sea Classics. This first installment (along with Dudley Pope’s nonfiction The Black Ship, a vigorous tale of a notorious 1797 mutiny, and James Norman Hall’s entertaining collection of nautical tall tales, Doctor Dogbody’s Leg) includes Marryat’s charming 1834 novel, a robust Dickensian romance about a “simple” young midshipman’s growth to manhood at sea during the Napoleonic Wars. The adventures of Peter, a kind of Don Quixote kept alive by the raffish wit of his shipmate—Sancho Panza Terence O’Brien—include imprisonment and narrow escapes from worse fates in France and the West Indies, a struggle to reclaim his inheritance from a deliciously wicked blood relation, and a satisfyingly improbable happy ending. This is one of the most attractive and neglected early Victorian novels, and its selection alone bodes well for a very promising series.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-8050-5830-3
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1998