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The Pirate's Daughter Hardcover – October 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cezair-Thompson conjures the tragic glamour of golden age Hollywood against the backdrop of lusty, turbulent Jamaica in her dual generational coming-of-age saga. Ida Joseph is 13 years old when Errol Flynn is nearly shipwrecked off the coast of her hometown of Port Antonio in 1946. Flynn instantly loves Jamaica and, eager to find a refuge from stateside scandal, purchases an island across from the port. Navy Island becomes the setting for his glittering parties, movie projects and affair with Ida in her senior year of high school. Flynn refuses to take responsibility for the resulting child, May, and after trying to make a go of it in Jamaica, Ida leaves May and heads to New York City, where she marries a wealthy baron friend of Flynn's who purchases the island after Flynn dies. May grows to adulthood on Navy Island, develops something more than a crush on a married family friend 40 years her senior and indulges in drugs and free love. Jamaica's tumultuous progression toward self-governance—with the violent chaos it unleashes on Navy Island—reveals certain hidden truths about the baron. For all the high drama, the reader never feels fully privy to Ida or May, but Cezair-Thompson otherwise succeeds magnificently in evoking a world distant in both time and place. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Jamaica-born Margaret Cezair-Thompson, a creative writing instructor at Wellesley College and author of The True History of Paradise, knows her native island’s physical, political, and social landscape well. Her historical epic, which spans the years between the end of World War II and the 1970s, sets a mother’s and a daughter’s coming-of-age stories against this lush country’s tensions of race and class. While most critics thought that both imagined and real characters (think Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe) sparkled, a couple accused the author of portraying self-absorbed, uninteresting stereotypes of Jamaicans; others cited a few too many plot coincidences. Neverthelessâ€"especially in May’s Treasure Cove, a book within a bookâ€"Jamaica comes alive in all its tropical splendor.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Unbridled Books; 1 edition (October 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932961402
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932961409
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,509,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
May Flynn, the daughter of actor Errol Flynn and a beautiful Jamaican girl, has always wondered about her roots. Brought up by her mother Ida, grandfather Eli, and, for four years, a foster family, May is clever and tough from a young age. Always an outsider, she could pass for white, though she is not part of the white world of her father and maternal grandfather. Not part of the black world, either, though she considers herself "colored," she is often mocked by her dark Jamaican peers. Frequently alone, she keeps journals, filling them with stories of pirates, inspired by the films starring Errol Flynn which she sees at the local cinema.

As May discovers more about her mother Ida's life before, during, and after her birth, she creates the story of her own life, revealing it through flashbacks. When Errol Flynn's yacht was blown ashore at Port Antonio during a 1946 hurricane, her grandfather Eli drove to his aid, soon becoming Flynn's social secretary, guide, confidant, and real estate broker. Flynn finds the relaxed atmosphere of Jamaica a welcome contrast to Hollywood, where he faces charges related to his affairs with underage girls. He soon builds a palatial estate on Navy Island, off the coast, where he entertains Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Truman Capote, and a host of other Hollywood stars. It is here that Ida, May's mother, first meets Flynn when she is thirteen.

The second part of the novel follows Ida after she gives birth to May. Trying to support her family, she leaves Jamaica (and May) to find work in New York. Her return to the island several years later, and the changes she introduces into May's life, parallel some of the changes occurring on the island itself. Cuban refugees swarm to Jamaica to escape Castro's takeover.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The tale begins with the larger-than-life presence of Errol Flynn, the great swashbuckling hero of the pirate movies, the stage set for an exotic adventure, a movie star who purchases his own private island near Port Antonio, Jamaica, building an estate and a reputation as a playboy extraordinaire, advised by a Port Antonio businessman and friend Eli Joseph. The two men share a love of conversation and grand ideas, Eli failing to notice his thirteen-year-old daughter's adoration of Flynn. Accompanying her father to Navy Island, Ida is enthralled by a luxurious lifestyle beyond her experience. By the time she is fifteen, Ida is pregnant with Flynn's child.

Given this dramatic turn of events, one might expect the movie star to do the right thing by his friend's daughter, but it is not in Flynn's nature to consider the feelings of others, still pursued by litigation for other underage conquests: "He felt as though he had some sort of moral immunity." Flynn sailing away, Ida is overwhelmed, her father in increasingly poor health. Faced with great responsibilities and few choices, Ida provides as best she can for May and Eli, but circumstances defeat her; when an opportunity to make a decent living in New York arises, Ida leaves three-year-old May and her ageing father in the hands of friends, hoping to bring them both to New York.

As many immigrants discover, America is not easily conquered; it is only through a stroke of luck that Ida encounters an acquaintance from Flynn's Navy Island days, Baron Karl von Ausberg. Karl is enchanted by the beautiful young woman and offers marriage. Eventually, Ida returns to Port Antonio as the wife of a baron, but at considerable cost to the relationship with her daughter.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By ReaderReader on December 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I had a bit of trouble getting into this book at first. I am not sure why other than the fact that I disliked Errol Flynn as portrayed in this book so much that I didn't care to finish. However, as I kept plugging along I found that I began to care deeply about Ida first and then her daughter May, and finally, about many of the family and friends that surround her. I also found that I became more and more interested in the portrayal of a by-gone era and the happenings on the island of Jamaica.

I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the portrayal of Errol Flynn, the history of Jamaica, or any of the other stars mentioned. However, I can vouch for the fact that this was an enjoyable story that really made the island of Jamaica come alive in my mind. I am glad that I persevered with this one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mandy on October 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
First off, I have to say, its unfortunate that anyone embarrassed themselves by writing off this remarkable novel. Margaret Cezair-Thompson is a Wellesley professor. Look up the school! They don't hire just anyone who can get published. Her academic nature saturates this book so thoroughly that I am really amazed by how most Amazon reveiwers seem to have missed it.

This story of Ida Joseph, Errol Flynn, and their illegitimate daughter May is a compelling first hand view from a Jamaican native of her country's history, struggle for independence and identity, and the impact it had on her people. Explaining the plotline is beside the point- you can read the Amazon synopsis. This book is really about the people that fill it, and it is truly a microcosm of the world and human frailty everywhere. To even try to summarize the characters into neat sentences would do this book an injustice.

I am surprised that even most of those that enjoyed the story seem to have missed the central underlying theme- the parallels between the revolution Jamaica experiences as it struggles for identity while Ida and May, the main characters, struggle to find and accept their own individual identities. Nearly every paragraph is allegorical or symbolic in some capacity; there is so much there that I chose to analyze this novel for my academic writing sample as I apply for graduate school! This novel is truly fine art.

What is really magical is that Cezair-Thompson paints allegorical scenes, details and backdrops in such a seamless way that it blends right in as she keeps the plot moving. Incredible, magic, genius.
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