A sequel to her biography of Conrad, The Thunder and the Sunshine. The Sea Years reveals Conrad's flaming youth. The text is again very well-researched; the author spent ten years tracing documents around the globe. Here is the history of every cruise Conrad was on during his twenty years at sea. It relates in detail the connection between his sea experiences and their reappearance in his novels. We meet the originals for Lord Jim and all of Conrad's heroines. In 1878, when he was twenty, Conrad fought a duel with the grandson of Francis Scott Key over one of the most beautiful girls in Europe. Both men were wounded, Conrad seriously, and the girl nursed him back to life. When she left him for his own sake, she and his consummated affair with her became prime memories he exploited magnificently. The book is rounded out with a summary of Conrad's later, tragic years and great friendships with Henry James, Stephen Crane, H. G. Wells, and others. He remained in debt, with a sick wife and two children, until after he published his eleventh novel at 59. Supremely admired, he experienced constant despair. The facts are there, and not to be overlooked even though the tone has a rose-gold romanticism.