July 23, 2014

Girl pirates!

by Celia Rees

Nancy Kington is the daughter of a merchantman living in Bristol, England. Not yet sixteen years old, she becomes owner of her father's sugar cane plantation in Jamaica. Nancy doesn't want to go to Jamaica because she is engaged to William, a boy destined to be a Navy man. Forced to run the plantation anyway, Nancy must contend with the horrors of slavery and an impending marriage to a ruthless Brazilian named Bartholome. Wanting to escape Bartholome's clutches and take more control over her life, Nancy, along with Minerva Sharpe, one of the plantation's slave girls, join a band of pirates.

Inspired by true accounts of female pirates disguised as men, Rees has fashioned a somewhat interesting adventure tale with intrigue and drama worthy of a daytime soap opera. There's fighting and plundering, storms and shipwrecks, mutiny and revelry, even a duel. Meanwhile, Nancy lives in fear of being captured by Bartholome and never seeing William again.

Pirates of the Caribbean fans may find the action rather tame since Rees' pirates vacillate between legal and illegal enterprises, often becoming quite respectable. Still, the honor code among them is inviolate and punishments are meted out accordingly.

Readers may get a little impatient with Nancy, who never really gets over her fears. A much stronger pirate is Minerva, who bravely and determinedly goes about her duties while providing Nancy with much needed moral support. Their friendship is the highlight of the book.

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