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The Truelove (Aubrey & Maturin #15)

4.34 of 5 stars 4.34  ·  rating details  ·  4,872 ratings  ·  138 reviews
A British whaler has been captured by an ambitious chief in the sandwich islands at French instigation, and Captain Aubrey, R. N., Is dispatched with the Surprise to restore order. But stowed away in the cable-tier is an escaped female convict. To the officers, Clarissa Harvill is an object of awkward courtliness and dangerous jealousies. Aubrey himself is won over and ind ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 17th 1993 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1992)
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Courage by Robert    CarterMaster and Commander by Patrick O'BrianPost Captain by Patrick O'BrianH.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O'BrianHornblower and the Hotspur by C.S. Forester
Historical Naval Fiction
12th out of 115 books — 97 voters
Tales of the South Pacific by James A. MichenerThe Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten TroostFiji by Lance MorcanReturn to Paradise by James A. MichenerH.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O'Brian
Best Books About the South Pacific
18th out of 61 books — 35 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I've mentioned before that a series of naval tales stuck in a perpetual 1812 and following the exploits of two individuals that is staggering on past double figures in terms of volumes must run in to problems of repetition and consequently risk dullness.


See the complete review here:
This entry in the Aubrey-Maturin series (which is essentially one very long novel) is mostly a character study as the officers of the Surprise cope with the presence on board of a desirable and not completely inaccessible young woman, surreptitiously rescued from the penal colony at New South Wales and possessing an enigmatic past.

Some of my favorite scenes in these books are the dinner parties at sea: the obsessive polishing of silver (Killick's joy); the donning of formal dress no matter how g
All but the most dedicated Aubrey-Maturin will want to skip this one. A lot of running in place--or, rather, dog paddling--with very little forward motion. It's as if the series became becalmed in the South Pacific. It's fun to read only if it isn't the same stuff we've read in the last fourteen novels.

For example, instead of peppering back story review over the first few chapters, O'Brian dumps twelve--no twenty--pages of narrative on us in the opening scene of the book, semi-disguised as Aubre
This book kept me interested but all in all I'm afraid that not much really happened in the story. This book is different from others in the cannon I've read so far in that there is a woman on board ship. While this was a new element to introduce, I really couldn't get a grasp on why she was the 'main' character of the story (one edition - don't know if it was American or British - called this book the Clarissa Oakes).

Through it all, I got to see the continuing good relationship between Jack an
Richard E.
Series Overview.

I fell in love with the series from the opening scene of Master and Commander, and went on to read all 20 Aubrey-Maturin novels. The characters of Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin were initialized in that opening scene, and grew through the entire series. This is the best historical fiction I have read. In the series, I learned about British, French, Dutch, and Spanish naval operations during the Napoleonic wars. I also first learned of Napoleon's command and espionage structu
Christopher Taylor
I recently have read this book for the second time, as I am revisiting the Aubrey-Maturin sea novels. Each time I open one of these books, it is like coming home to a warm comfortable chair; welcoming and relaxing.

Truelove is a single voyage, covering a trip along the Pacific Ocean from Australia to Hawaii, and this single narrative moves long with the same continuous pace with a few gentle pauses and frantic moments as a sailing ship would through the ocean. O'Brian's writing style is less abou
I'm on my third time through the multi-book Patrick O'Brian series about the friendship of a Royal Navy captain (Jack Aubrey) and his ship's surgeon/intelligence agent (Stephen Maturin).
If I have to choose one set of books to keep, this is the one. I'm pretty certain I will read them many more times if I live so long. The Truelove is special because of the female character Clarissa Oakes. The nineteenth century Royal Navy was a man's world and most of the yarns involve men. But O'Brian also deve
The last couple books in the Aubrey/Maturin series hadn't had the same pizzaz as the earlier ones, but this one recaptured the old magic - and in a surprising direction.

O'Brian doesn't often have female characters in a large role, but he pulled it off well here with the character of Clarissa Oakes, a prostitute convicted for murder and sent to New South Wales. She is smuggled aboard by one of the officers and the discovery of her presence forces a marriage. Even in her new married state, sexual
Sep 20, 2009 Mark added it

I’ve been rereading Patrick O’Brien’s novels in the last few months and a few novels ago (I think it happens around number 12 or 13 in the Aubrey Maturin series) I reached the point at which “novel” stopped actually being a reasonable description of the books. I really enjoy these books, so don’t get the impression that I’m putting them down when I say this. It’s simply that all pretense of being individual, novel length, plots is, by the point, firmly abandoned. The book starts where the previo
Some rambles:

Unfortunately I didn't read the prior book "Nutmeg of Surprise" first, and I missed out on some stuff.

This book is also called Clarissa Oakes, I'm not sure why they changed it to Truelove for the US Market.

Enjoyable, much more action oriented for Aubrey, and a lot of psycho/social observations for Maturin

It's part of a series of books that are one long voyage (1813?). In some sense, it's a more efficient technique for both the writer and the reader, most importantly it works.

Much of
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Condliffe

Finished the series, 21 books in all . I must say they were really good especially the first ten after that they got a bit repetitive. There is only so much you can take of Maturin describing some exotic animal or a description of how guns are fired. I think he repeated the formula to often. But having said that Patrick O' Brien is a brilliant writer of scenes and battle. Very crisp and informative at the same time. His mastery of history and detail is superb.
I loved reading this series.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robert Appleton
Deftly told with an almost supernatural skill. The extent of Clarissa's (unwitting) influence on the crew sneaks up on Jack and the reader; before we know it the Surprise is a completely transformed ship. O'Brian writes women equally as well as men, and I ended up rooting for Ms. Oakes, in spite of the near-disastrous effects of her presence.

On the other hand, I've never really warmed to Martin. He's appeared in several of the books and I've always found him a bit of a bore. He starts to unravel
Martine Bailey
This impressive tale once again starts at a very leisurely pace with an account of Jack Aubrey’s uneasy state of mind. The atmosphere builds into a slow burning drama reminiscent of Conrad in its psychological symbolism. Clarissa Oakes is an escaped convict who stowed away at Botany Bay and becomes a symbol of the problems of an attractive woman on board a ship of repressed men. Perhaps intentionally, Clarissa herself is oddly characterless and static and there were aspects of her character and ...more
At the beginning of the book, Aubrey is ill and ill-natured. Some thirty pages in, Maturin doses (and lectures) Aubrey out of it, and suddenly we have our first lyrical description of a dawn at sea. This lyrical description is the signal that the psychological atmosphere on board has shifted, at least for Aubrey.

The Truelove is a valuable prize and the crew take joy in it. But this vessel does not merit the title of the book. The true Truelove is Clarissa Oakes. She is no true love in the conve
Alex Sarll
When I first had this book in my pocket, back in June (it never got started; life intruded) I got into conversation with an author of moderate note who, though working in another field himself, was a huge fan of the Aubrey-Maturin books - except for this one. I believe his objection was that nothing happens, and it's true that there are no wrecks and nobody drownded; such battles as we get are brief and mostly offscreen. But in the same way that the best issue of Excalibur is the one where the s ...more
Interesting details on sailing ships. Odd focus on a female stowaway.
Todd Stockslager
Aubrey and Maturin escape from Australia, then the New South Wales penal colony, with an escapee and a stowaway, a woman who has fallen in love with a sailor. The woman has ties back to French spies who had chased and nearly undone Maturin many books back (Ledward and Wray) due to a double agent working within the English government.

Better than the previous entry in the series, this discovery opens the possibility of uncovering the spy in the future.

Sixteenth in the series: The Wine-Dark Sea
Dan Glover
I love this series but this was probably the book that I have liked the least of all so far. It moved along at rather a slower pace than the others in the series and much of the plot centres around a woman found to be on board the ship, having escaped from New South Wales. There are short bursts of action and the book ends on a high note with really the only battle in the entire book. I'd give it just barely north of 3 stars but definitely south of 4. Compared to the usual pace, this seemed stuc ...more
Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin are still in the South Seas in this 15th entry in Patrick O'Brian's series. It's a rather slow moving tale that doesn't seem to advance the Aubrey/Maturin saga that much - at least until near the end when Maturin gets a clue that may identify a highly placed English spy in the pay of Napoleon's intelligence service. It's a name he has been seeking for a while.

The storyline this time is that Captain Aubrey and the Surprise have been dispatched by the Ro
Neil Coulter

Book 15 continues to stretch Aubrey and Maturin's voyage into one of their longest yet. This is mostly fine with me, though I do enjoy the return to domestic scenes occasionally. In this case, one of the disappointments is the off-stage nature of Stephen's coming to terms with having a child. He has been so vehemently opposed to children in the past that even though there is some of his wrestling with the implications of becoming a father, I feel slighted that this plot thread has developed most

This novel finds Captain Aubrey and his beloved ship "Surprise" in the good graces of the Royal Navy, as he sails from New South Wales in the wake of a duel that some uninformed officer had the bad fortune to force on Stephen Maturin. It turns out that a midshipman followed the example of Aubrey years earlier, and stowed away his sweetie. Women were considered to be bad omens aboard ships in those days, and when Clarissa Harvill is discovered, a serious morale problem ensues among crew who are e ...more
Overall, I am a huge fan of the series in general and O'Brian's writing in particular. His style is wonderful--there is hardly a better master of subtle and super-subtle irony going. But with this and the previous entry in the series, I feel as if the energy is flagging a little bit. As he has done several times in the past, O'Brian turns to ringing subtle changes on characters we have met previously by introducing new characters that chime with them in interesting ways. Enter Clarissa Oakes. Ex ...more
Craig a.k.a Meatstack
I don't think it's unfair to say this book has taken a different tact than the rest of the series thus far.

With only one action, coming late in the story, most of the focus was on the individuals and characters of the story instead of tactics and navel warfare.

And, once again, Patrick O'Brian delivers. I see this book filling out many of the secondary characters more so than the primary drivers. We learn a bit more about Martin. We see the gunroom at their worst, and how Jack copes with this br
Patrick O’Brian continues the brilliant career of Captain Jack Aubrey and Steven Maturin in The Truelove (Clarissa Oaks in the United Kingdom). Minor Spoilers Below .

Some of the Plot:
The book begins with the HMHV Surprise on its way back to England after the completion of the mission it set out on in The Thirteen-Gun Salute and The Nutmeg of Consolation. Jack is unhappy the crew managed to sneak a convicted felon and former crewmate, Padeen Colman, aboard during the ship’s visit to New South
EJD Dignan
Repeated from review of Book 1

That Patrick O'Brian chose to place his characters on the sea in the not so distant past just raised the hurdle I had to leap to get to know this wonderful author.

I had never been enamored with sea stories, didn't much care for European history, and yet was wonderfully taken with this series. The sea is a major character, but history is not greatly illuminated, almost a backdrop to the specific circumstance the characters find themselves in. Which perhaps reflects t
Gilly McGillicuddy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 31, 2008 Rob rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those trying to finish off the Aubrey-Maturin series.
The Truelove continues the journey that stared several books ago with The Letter of Marque; that is to say, Aubrey and Maturin haven't set foot on England in several books at this point.

After leaving New South Wales, Aubrey discovers a girl, Clarissa, that has been stowed away to escape the prison of Australia by a midshipman named Oaks. Though the plot takes us to an island nation where there is a civil war, and though there is some action, the vast majority of the plot surrounds this woman, wh
Captain Jack Aubrey is a Royal Naval officer in the British Navy in the early 18th century. His close friend and ship's doctor is Stephen Maturin, an Irish Catholic who is also employed be British intelligence. Jack is a larger than life swashbuckler who has been in the navy since he was a lad. He is an avid sailor with a fine touch on his boats. He runs them like thoroughbreds and is always looking at getting the best out of both the ship and the crew. Stephen is more circumspect and uses his w ...more
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Patrick O'Brian's acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series of historical novels has been described as "a masterpiece" (David Mamet, New York Times), "addictively readable" (Patrick T. Reardon, Chicago Tribune), and "the best historical novels ever written" (Richard Snow, New York Times Book Review), which "should have been on those lists of the greatest novels of the 20th century" (George Will).

Set in the
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Other Books in the Series

Aubrey & Maturin (1 - 10 of 21 books)
  • Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin, #1)
  • Post Captain (Aubrey/Maturin, #2)
  • H.M.S. Surprise (Aubrey/Maturin, #3)
  • The Mauritius Command (Aubrey/Maturin, #4)
  • Desolation Island (Aubrey/Maturin, #5)
  • The Fortune of War (Aubrey/Maturin, #6)
  • The Surgeon's Mate (Aubrey/Maturin, #7)
  • The Ionian Mission (Aubrey/Maturin, #8)
  • Treason's Harbour (Aubrey/Maturin #9)
  • The Far Side of the World (Aubrey/Maturin, #10)
Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin, #1) H.M.S. Surprise (Aubrey/Maturin, #3) The Mauritius Command (Aubrey/Maturin, #4) Post Captain (Aubrey/Maturin, #2) Desolation Island (Aubrey/Maturin, #5)

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