The Pirate’s Daughter (warning, spoilers!)

1 Jul

I have just finished reading The Pirate’s Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson and was pleasantly surprised. I am normally an avid classics reader, hardly ever straying from the comfort of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. However this book has been staring at me from the bookshelf for a long time, and since the weather began to change, I thought it was the perfect choice for my next reading adventure!

The story is set in Jamaica, spanning two generations from Ida’s childhood in the 1940s to her daughter May’s adulthood in the 1970s. It is a storyabout love, loss and responsibilities in an ever-changing country. The book begins in Ida’s narrative as a young girl in 1946, fascinated and awe-struck by the charming and handsome movie star Errol Flynn, as he settles on the island and befriends Ida’s father, bringing a touch of Hollywood glamour to an otherwise unknown place. As the relationship between 16 year old Ida and Flynn blossoms into a passionate but short-lived romance, the story takes a sudden sharp turn as Ida falls pregnant and Flynn flees the island, leaving Ida to fend for herself and their unborn child, May. As May grows, the story shifts into her perspective. Ida has to go to New York to find work and May is left feeling abandoned and alienated in a place where she is bullied for her pale skin and the story of her mother’s affair with Flynn. After such a poor childhood, May grows into a young adult just as Jamaica becomes a volatile and hostile place to live as it strives for independence and better living conditions. Ida and May then face many tragedies and sacrifices in their life, setting a much darker tone to the story; a far cry from Ida’s idyllic childhood at the beginning of the book.

The story is mostly fictitious, being only loosely based on facts, however Cezair-Thompson, being a native of Jamaica herself, really makes the story ring true with her beautiful descriptions of the island and the accurate dialect that gives life to the characters. I found myself getting totally immersed in the lives of the characters, really feeling for Ida and her situation and almost hating Flynn for the way he had treated her. For the most part I found this book thrilling and engaging, but began to lose patience towards the end, as more and more of the main characters die and the subject of pirates and buried treasure is brought up time and time again, which adds nothing to the story. There are some major plot twists towards the end, but they are not nearly as exciting as one would hope.

Having said that, this is a well written story, that kept me turning the pages to find out more. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, particularly if you are looking for a fitting summer read!

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I would love to see a film made out of this one day, but for now I will have to make do with re-reading…which I most definitely will be doing!

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