Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Wave Queen: Caroline Harris

Adventure Romance Suspense

After inheriting a diary written by a 19th century ship's cook, together with a handwritten will and USA naturalisation papers I was inspired to tell the story of the voyage of the Wave Queen, a merchant vessel, from Shoreham, England to Valparaiso, Chile in the year 1872.
Three years of research and the book became a fictional adventure story based on fact.
The hero, Charles Hamilton-Bashford is an eighteen year old Eton School-boy. He recklessly squanders his five thousand pound annual allowance and being hard-pressed for the payment of debts, begs his father to give him an advance. On refusal he in his desperation steals and forges his father's cheque to settle his debts.
Charles' father, a retired Major and a respected Magistrate, discovers the forgery and sends Charles to serve on a cargo ship separating him from his sweetheart, Florry.
Charles escapes before the ship sails, and reaches his aunt ‘s London home only to be recaptured and sent back to the
Wave Queen.

Meanwhile Florry is propelled into a series of tumultuous events.

What adventures will befall them ?
Will he returned to England?
Will he ever be re-united with Florry?

The Wave Queen is full of careless errors. I found misplaced commas, missing quotation marks, inconsistent formatting, comma splices, and some random capitalisations. Charles, its central character, uses a modern idiom throughout while his father talks more like Mr. Banks, the father in Mary Poppins; and the heavies who visit Charles in order to encourage him to pay his debts complete our Disney picture by talking a pastiche of English which owes more to Dick Van Dyke than to 1872, the year in which this book is set.

The author has failed quite spectacularly with some of her more basic research: for example, she provides Charles with an annual allowance of £5,000 which equates to an income of £2.7m today which could be possible, I suppose, but it's a heck of an amount for an eighteen-year-old to have unsupervised access to while at boarding school.

The text lacks detail, colour and sophistication and despite my very best attempts to be lenient, I read just three pages of it.


caz said...

The research for this book was thorough and it is based on fact. Charles existed; his will is published in this book and he mentions his allowance, his debts and the fact that he forged his father's cheque...
If the critic had read just 3 pages of this book she would not be able to criticise his father's speech since he does not appear until later. However, a critique of the book was requested and given. I can only say that those who have read The Wave Queen have enjoyed look at the comments on!

Jane Smith said...

The critic (why are we talking about me in third person?) did read just three pages of this book for the purpose of this review, but as always, she also flicked through the whole book to get a basic understanding of its rhythms, structure and plot.

I understand that you used original source material in researching your book: but what other research did you do? To paraphrase a friend of mine, your characters seem to be contemporary people running around in fancy dress: I got no feeling at all of the period in which you're writing, nor did I believe in any of them. Which is quite a feat considering they are, mostly, based on real people.

I'm glad that the two people who have reviewed your book on Amazon both enjoyed it: I notice that neither of them have reviewed any other books, though, and I do wonder if they're friends or acquaintances of yours.