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The Nutmeg of Consolation (Vol. Book 14) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels) Paperback – July 17, 1993

4.5 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews
Book 14 of 21 in the Aubrey & Maturin Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Shipwrecked! When Captain Aubrey and his crew go aground on a remote island, they labor to construct a seaworthy schooner from the wreckage (taking breaks, of course, to play cricket.) Their subsequent adventures lead them to the dreaded penal colony at Botany Bay, and then, as always, back to sea.

From Publishers Weekly

Readers will welcome the reappearance here of elegant Stephen Maturin, one hero of O'Brian's excellent 19th-century seafarer series. Maturin is a ship's doctor, naturalist, spy, musician, ex-opium eater and, we're reminded here, terrific swordsman. His "brother" is Capt. Jack Aubrey, RN, MP, popular hero for his success against Napoleon, less introspective but as subtly drawn as Maturin and as avid a musician. Last seen in The Thirteen-Gun Salute the two were shipwrecked on a barren isle in the South China Sea. After a bitter fight with Dyaks and Malays they reach Batavia, where Governor Raffles gives Aubrey the eponymic Dutch sloop ("a tight, sweet, newly-coppered, broad-buttocked litle ship, a solace to any man's heart") to continue his circumnavigation of the globe. As usual the chief joys are in the details of the food, drink and clothes of the era, with those of the rain forests, kangaroos and platypuses added here. On the other hand, early Sydney's squalor is matched by its brutality.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Aubrey/Maturin Novels (Book 14)
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (July 17, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780393309065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393309065
  • ASIN: 0393309061
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In addition to twenty volumes in the highly respected Aubrey/Maturin series, Patrick O'Brian's many books include "Testimonies," "The Golden Ocean," and "The Unknown Shore". O'Brian also wrote acclaimed biographies of Pablo Picasso and Sir Joseph Banks and translated many works from the French, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Lacouture's biographies of Charles de Gaulle. He passed away in January 2000 at the age of 85.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Some critics have referred to the Aubrey/Maturin books as one long novel united not only by their historical setting but also by the central plot element of the Aubrey/Maturin friendship. Having read these fine books over a period of several years, I decided to evaluate their cumulative integrity by reading them consecutively in order of publication over a period of a few weeks. This turned out to be a rewarding enterprise. For readers unfamiliar with these books, they describe the experiences of a Royal Navy officer and his close friend and traveling companion, a naval surgeon. The experiences cover a broad swath of the Napoleonic Wars and virtually the whole globe.
Rereading all the books confirmed that O'Brian is a superb writer and that his ability to evoke the past is outstanding. O'Brian has numerous gifts as a writer. He is the master of the long, careful description, and the short, telling episode. His ability to construct ingenious but creditable plots is first-rate, probably because he based much of the action of his books on actual events. For example, some of the episodes of Jack Aubrey's career are based on the life of the famous frigate captain, Lord Cochrane. O'Brian excels also in his depiction of characters. His ability to develop psychologically creditable characters through a combination of dialogue, comments by other characters, and description is tremendous. O'Brien's interest in psychology went well beyond normal character development, some books contain excellent case studies of anxiety, depression, and mania.
Reading O'Brien gives vivid view of the early 19th century. The historian Bernard Bailyn, writing of colonial America, stated once that the 18th century world was not only pre-industrial but also pre-humanitarian (paraphrase).
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Format: Paperback
The Nutmeg of Consolation finds our friends about halfway through a circumnavigation that began 2 books ago. This is the story of their travails in extreme south east asia. The story deftly builds on earlier plot lines and concludes several angles in an almost shocking manner.
This is a book that must be read in the context of all the others that came before. I have read the series through book 19 and have read them in order. As many, many other commentators have mentioned, this series is really one book with twenty chapters (e.i. the individual books) and should be read in order. Not only does this help understand the chracters but allows the reader to move along with the protagonists and understand their reasoning.
The series is masterful and one easily begins to understand the somewhat obscure jargon and period expressions. However, I have benefited from the growing cottage industry in companion books to this series, especially Dean King's "A Sea of Words". This is a good guide to fully appreciating the scope and breadth of these beautifully written novels.
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Format: Paperback
Although THE THIRTEEN GUN SALUTE was one of the least eventful books in the entire Aubrey-Maturin series, THE NUTMEG OF CONSOLATION is one of the most action filled. The books in the series are not, in the end, really about action, but it nonetheless can be a lot of fun when it takes place. The major incident in the previous novel had been the wrecking of the Diane on uncharted rocks near a remote island and the start of this one has the surviving crew members working hard to build a smaller vessel out of the remains of the Diane to sail to the nearest port. Instead, they find themselves under attack by pirates, led by a memorable female who briefly and seemingly befriends Maturin. Later, after being rescued by a Chinaman who comes to the island looking for the makings of birds nest soup, Jack and his crew take charge of the refitting of a Dutch vessel that had been sunk and salvaged that Jack renames The Nutmeg of Consolation. After a long chase of a French privateer and the reuniting with the Surprise, the rest of the novel focuses on a trip to Botany Bay, the novel ending suddenly after a near fatal encounter by Stephen with a male duckbilled platypus. All in all, it is an exceptionally satisfying novel, the only possible complaint that there is little time for the political or interpersonal interplay so fascinating in the other novels. Also, O'Brian, who delights in being not only a first-rate storyteller but a teacher and instructor, gets to do less of the latter here. Still, I can't imagine anyone failing to be thoroughly entertained by this fine novel.

Some reviewers complain that at this point in the series, it is beginning to get a little tired.
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Format: Paperback
"The Nutmeg of Consolation" is the fourteenth volume in the famed Aubrey-Maturin series. Even by Patrick O'Brian's standards, this is a particularly well crafted tale, wonderfully displaying the author's masterly narrative technique. I enjoyed it tremendously!
The story begins where "The Thirteen-Gun Salute" ended, on an uninhabited island in the South China Sea. Engaged in building a schooner after having suffered shipwreck during a typhoon, HMS Diane's survivors - including Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin - soon find themselves under attack by Malay pirates. Once this scare is over, a stroke of luck brings them to Batavia from where Jack puts to sea in command of a Dutch ship renamed "Nutmeg of Consolation". Once more it is a French frigate our friends are after, and the ensuing chase is yet another testimony to Patrick O'Brian's phenomenal skill of describing a sea action in the age of sail. Reunited with the "Surprise", the party finally reaches Sydney, site of the penal settlements of New South Wales. There, Stephen not only succeeds in finding Padeen, his former manservant who was deported to New South Wales, but he is also provoked into a duel, acquires a boomerang and has his first encounter with a platypus. It is indeed an eventful stopover in Down Under!
There certainly is a lot of action in "The Nutmeg of Consolation", settings change quickly and along the way Jack and Stephen find themselves in unprecedented situations. And yet, at the same time, there is more wit and irony in this book than in many of the volumes written beforehand.
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