A Tainted Dawn:
The Great War
B. N. PEACOCK
Published by Fireship Press in March 2012
This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK
If I ask you to name 5 places, events or people in association with the French Revolution, I bet I will find in your list Paris, la Bastille, Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and la guillotine.
Not many people think of a broader field where the same new values and ideas were at stake. The originality and richness of A Tainted Dawn is to off center our usual focus and have us look at what was going on in the maritime world, between France, England and Spain, in the Caribbean Sea.
Edward, Jemmy, and Louis, coming from totally different backgrounds but all having some kind of problems in their relationships with their father, end up on ships for various reasons. They had first met by chance on land and will meet again, as their values clash and mirror the clash of the century.
The story begins rather slowly. The list of characters at the beginning of the book allows the reader not to be too confused by who is who. However, if like me you are not too familiar with sailing boats, you will need extra material to figure out what the author is talking about in all her maritime descriptions. I found it a bit tedious at times, but I admit I am the only one to blame here: this book is published at a Press renowned for its finest books in historical and nautical fiction and non-fiction, so its usual readers would know what all these technical expressions are.
Nevertheless, I was captivated enough by the characters, as they grow and fight for their life, at all levels, including physically (Captain Ahab is an angel compared to Neville), and as the sea world lures them by its beauty, despite the really tough world of ship crews.
I enjoyed especially 2 passages:
- when Edward goes through the inner conflict between staying on the ship where he is violently maltreated by the captain and abandoning the sea and the marvels of this life (nature, sky, moon, stars). There’s a very beautiful description and parallel between the seduction of the sea and of a woman (p.87)
- there’s a fantastic description of a revolution scene, when Paris citizenesses and fishwives ask for bread at the beginning of the French Revolution. Great scene alluding to crazy mass reactions!
“The French were always ready, willing, and able to cause trouble.” p.212
A couple of years ago, I actually happened to visit a large sail-boat, the exact replica of an 18th century sail-boat, floating now only on the Great Lakes, as a sailing school. I could not but be impressed by the young student sailor, as she explained their life on the boat, and was mesmerized at the end by young guys climbing these rope ladders to unfurl the large sails.
If you feel the call of the sea, and are interested in seeing how the ideas of freedom and rights of men have had a hard time to impose themselves in an original setting, this book is for you.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
August 1789. The Rights of Man. Liberty. Equality. Idealism. Patriotism.
A new age dawns.
And yet, old hostilities persist: England and Spain are on the brink of war. France, allied by treaty with Spain, readies her warships. Three youths–the son of an English carpenter, the son of a naval captain, an the son of a French court tailor–meet in London, a chance encounter that entwines their lives thereafter. The English boys find themselves on the same frigate bound for the Caribbean. The Frenchman sails to Trinidad, where he meets an even more zealous Spanish revolutionary. As diplomats in Europe race to avoid conflict, war threatens to erupt in the Caribbean, with the three youths pitted against each other.
Will the dawn of the boys’ young manhood remain bright with hope? Or will it become tainted with their countrymen’s spilt blood?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
B. N. Peacock’s love of history started in childhood, hearing stories of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire from her immigrant grandparents. They related accounts handed down from their grandparents about battlefields so drenched in blood that grass cut there afterwards oozed red liquid. Such tales entranced her. These references probably dated to the time of the Napoleonic Wars. No wonder she was drawn to this time period.
In addition to history, she showed an equally early proclivity for writing, winning an honorable mention in a national READ magazine contest for short stories. The story was about history, of course, namely the battle of Bunker Hill as seen from the perspective of a British war correspondent.
The passion for writing and history continued throughout high school and undergraduate studies. She was active in her high school newspaper, eventually becoming its editor-in-chief. After graduation, she majored in Classical Studies (Greek and Latin) at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. In her junior year, life took one of those peculiar turns which sidetrack one. A year abroad studying at Queen Mary College, University of London in England led to the discovery of another passion, travel. She returned and finished her degree at F&M, but now was lured from her previous interests in history and writing.
Her work continues on Book Two in The Great War series, tentatively to be called Army of Citizens, with new trips planned to England, France and Belgium.
Please visit her page www.bnpeacock.com to discover lots ox extra material, including the portrait of the three young heroes!
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