The Sweet Trade

Elizabeth Garrett, Author, James L. Nelson, Author Forge $24.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-312-87518-3
""Writing a novel based on the lives of real people... is a tricky thing,"" muses first novelist Garrett in an afterword. ""The end result is, invariably, an odd amalgam of history and fiction, not entirely one or the other."" Striving for historical accuracy, Garrett crafts a fast-moving, if ultimately conventional, romantic adventure novel. Mary Read and Anne Bonny, a pair of unusual (real-life) 18th-century pirates, dress as men so they may travel freely, and, together with Calico Jack Rackam, they terrorize the West Indies. Court records provide some of the information for Garrett's reconstruction of her heroines' lives. Mary Read was dressed as a boy by her mother to dupe her in-laws; later, it seems natural for Mary to join England's cavalry in the war against the French. Falling in love with her tent-mate Frederick Heesch, Mary saves his life numerous times and eventually reveals her true identity. When their brief marriage is terminated by his death of consumption, Mary sees no alternative but to assume her previous guise and sign on as a sailor with a Dutch ship. In the West Indies the ship is besieged by the notorious Calico Jack and his lover, Anne, who has only recently thumbed her nose at her spineless husband and run off with Jack, stealing a ship from the governor in Nassau. Sailing the Caribbean in search of heavily laden merchant ships, Calico Jack's crew happily accepts Mary and Anne into their makeshift family, marveling to see the women fight, cuss and pirate with lusty enthusiasm. As each woman struggles with her double identity, the narrative becomes an absorbing blend of action, historical event and emotional drama. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/2001
Release date: 04/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 464 pages - 978-0-8125-7851-5
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