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The Secret Life of James Cook (James Cook #1)

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  71 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
A fictionalised account of the famous navigator's early life, this book evokes Cook's youthful ambitions, his early naval career, his marriage to Elizabeth and their family life.

Drawing on his personal knowledge of the South Pacific and Australasia, novelist Graeme Lay recreates the peerless navigator's life up to, and including, his first circumnavigation of the world. I
Kindle Edition
Published (first published January 1st 2013)
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Graham Crawford
Jan 08, 2015 Graham Crawford rated it it was ok
I don't think this is a bad book - just not for me. The prose and the characterization were pretty simplistic. I notice that this author is mainly known for his Young Adult fiction and Travelogues which might explain the style. The only thing "adult" about this was the sex. These necessary scenes (Tahiti etc) seemed a little clumsy as though the author was unsure of the tone he should use.

The most interesting bits were about the South Sea Islanders, where it was evident Lay was trying to present
The book tells a fictionalise account of James Cook's early life and ends with his return from his first voyage of circumnavigation. There is use of his official log as well as a fictional diary written to his wife.

The story is easy to read and tells of Cook's real life adventures. For many readers this will be a good way to read of his voyages rather than reading a non-fiction account.

I am not sure what the "Secret Life" bit was, as since little is known about Cook except from his formal journa
Oct 10, 2013 Andrew rated it liked it
As an Aussie I was expecting that this fictionalised tale of Cook's travels to the great southern ocean would be the wonderful story we are all lead to believe Cook undertook. Guess what, there was more written about NZ and the Pacific Islands than anywhere else. Wonder does that happen to be because of the author? Cook is perceived as a true Gentleman who remains true to his wife and family. It is a good story, well researched, but even though disappointing as there was not the great discovery ...more
Carol-ann Torrie
Apr 07, 2015 Carol-ann Torrie rated it really liked it
A novel, but so well researched. Brings his early years and first voyage to New Zealand to life, and imagines his thoughts and personal feelings, which don't come across in his very factual ship's logs.

I am glad to fill in some gaps in my knowledge of this great explorer and navigator, and look forward to reading the sequel.

My favourite quote? Cook wrote that he intended to go not only "farther than any man has been before me, but as far as I think it is possible for a man to go." Now that show
Jan 14, 2015 Jo rated it really liked it
Lay's writing is workmanlike, but Cook's story is fascinating. He was not the high-born toff I imagined, but a farm boy who became a grocer's apprentice, then fell in love with the sea, and became a naval officer through sheer talent and ambition. The story of his wife Elizabeth is terribly sad: she stayed at home for years while James was at sea, giving birth to four children in his absence, two of whom died and one whom he never saw at all.
Angie Brierley
Feb 01, 2016 Angie Brierley rated it liked it
An easy read, perhaps aimed at a slightly younger audience. Despite the fact that the book is described "explores the relationship between James and his remarkable wife Elizabeth", there is very little in this book that explores their relationship beyond the fictional letters Cook writes to his wife - which is understandable as the author clearly states it is a work of fiction - however I had expected more.
Chris Werry
Jul 27, 2015 Chris Werry rated it really liked it
Fictionalised version of Captain James Cook's early life and first voyage of discovery on HMB Endeavour. Easy to read and a gripping story. Doesn't always ring true - e.g. some dialogue seems too modern or slightly forced to get a cross a character trait. There are two more books in the series.
Rose Marie
Jul 20, 2015 Rose Marie rated it liked it
This read started well, held my attention, was interesting etc. But by the time Cook was at sea and writing a journal to Elizabeth (his wife), it lost my attention. The story line seemed to get a bit corny from that point.
Jan 23, 2015 jagle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Yes, it is written simplistically, but it is obviously a novel and intended to attract readers who wouldn't read a full historical biography. It has an ease and grace and narrative which adds substance to a story of seafaring. Really quite enjoyable.
Bronwyn Muggleston
Jun 11, 2015 Bronwyn Muggleston rated it really liked it
Easy read, know it's fiction but strongly based on historic journals and published nonfiction works. Will look out for the second book.
Brief insight into his family and how it is for the family left behind for years awaiting to hear if their voyagers are still alive.
Teagan Matterson
This book was really interesting because it enables you to learn more about James Cook and his family and his travels.
Sep 01, 2013 Velma rated it really liked it
What do you know about James Cook? This historical novel is an easy way to explore the possibilities of his life.
Kylee Petersen
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Dec 08, 2013
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Oct 26, 2016
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Sep 07, 2014
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tony sullivan rated it it was amazing
Nov 12, 2015
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Nov 09, 2016
Gabrielle Nicholson
Gabrielle Nicholson rated it it was ok
Jul 04, 2015
Helen Clarkson
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Apr 15, 2015
Tania Tuffield
Tania Tuffield rated it it was amazing
Dec 27, 2015
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Dec 29, 2013
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Jun 05, 2016
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Aug 16, 2016
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Graeme Lay is a prolific writer, editor and manuscript assessor. He has published or anthologised forty works of fiction and non-fiction, including novels for adults and young adults, three collections of short stories and three of travel writing. He has been Books Editor for North & South magazine and for over twenty years was secretary of the Frank Sargeson Trust.

Graeme began writing short s
More about Graeme Lay...

Other Books in the Series

James Cook (3 books)
  • James Cook's New World
  • James Cook’s Lost World

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