Title: The Pirate’s Daughter
Author: Margaret Cezair-Thompson
Release Date: October 31, 2007
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
From the back cover:
In 1946, Hollywood’s most famous swashbuckler, Errol Flynn, arrived in Jamaica in a storm-ravaged boat. After a long and celebrated career on the silver screen, Flynn spent the last years of his life on a small island off the Jamaican coast, where he fell in love with the people, the paradisiacal setting, and the privacy, and brought a touch of Tinseltown glamour to the West Indian community.
Based on those years, The Pirate’s Daughter imagines an affair between the aging matinee star and Ida, a beautiful local girl. Flynn’s affections are unpredictable but that doesn’t stop Ida from dreaming of a life with him, especially after the birth of their daughter, May.
Margaret Cezair-Thompson weaves stories of mothers and daughters, fathers and lovers, country and kin, into this compelling, dual-generational coming-of-age tale of two women struggling to find their way in a nation wrestling with its own independence.
I’d heard a lot of really good things about The Pirate’s Daughter before finally deciding to give it a try. It was one of those books that didn’t really captivate me from the summary, but all of the positive reactions made me want to read it.
I was surprised to find that The Pirate’s Daughter was slow; I had some real trouble getting into it for the first 100 pages or so. It wasn’t to the point where I wanted to put the book down, but it just wasn’t hooking me. Slowly, though, I came to be more and more interested in what was happening to the characters until I found that the book had charmed me through and through. It just took a little bit of patience.
I found May’s story, which is told second, much more interesting than Ida’s, which is why I think it took me awhile to get into the novel. I was impressed with the seamless transition between the two narratives though. I was reading about Ida, then I was reading about May; the transition was so smooth that my brain didn’t really register it. The characters of Ida and May are also well written; however, I feel that the background of May’s story is much more interesting than the background of Ida’s, which is Errol Flynn.
May’s story, on the other hand, interested me more because it was set against the backdrop of political and cultural changes in Jamaica, which was the real allure of the story for me. I don’t know much about Jamaica’s history, so it was really interesting to read about what was happening politically after Castro’s takeover in Cuba, as well as what it was doing to the youth of the nation. As the main characters changed, it was so captivating to read about the slow transformation of Jamaican society along with them. Again, Cezair-Thompson’s writing here is seamless; the changes in Jamaican society are so subtle that it takes some time for the reader to understand what exactly is happening. It’s wonderfully written and the most interesting part of the story.
I’d recommend The Pirate’s Daughter to anyone who likes reading stories about strong women or enjoys reading about other countries and cultures, especially their histories. Though the Errol Flynn storyline is what drew me to the novel in the first place, I feel like it takes a backseat to Ida and May, as well as Jamaica as a whole.