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The Truelove (Aubrey & Maturin #15)

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  6,221 Ratings  ·  187 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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Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
“I am in favour of leaving people alone, however imperfect their polity may seem. It appears to me that you must not tell other nations how to set their house in order; nor must you compel them to be happy.”
- Patrick O'Brian, the Truelove


When originally published, O'Brian's 15th installment in his Aubrey-Maturin series was originally titled Clarissa Oakes. I'm not sure why the title was changed, but perhaps it is because the focus of this novel is less about Clarissa (Harvill) Oakes (the convict
Jamie Collins
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
May 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
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:
Renee M
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The one with Clarissa Oakes and the Polynesian Queen. I'm still deciding what I think about the deeply pragmatic Clarissa Oakes, which is somewhat surprising given her pronounced position aboard Jack's ship and in a large portion of the story. I am hoping that there will be some closure in the next installment of the series.
Judith Johnson
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As always, I love reading the further adventures of Jack, Stephen, Killick, Bonden,Pullings etc, but like Captain Roddy, I'll give this one 4 and a half stars - not quite as thrilling as some. Now I am with child to find out what's happening back at the ranch with Diana, but I'll have to wait - only 5 books left, and I'll have to eke them out! (though there's always re-reading. I'm not a habitual re-reader, but I have read these books several times, and no doubt, should I reach old age, I shall ...more
Sep 09, 2009 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
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
Jul 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) by:
Following on the heels of the "five-star" "The Nutmeg of Consolation," I am giving this, the 15th volume in the Aubrey-Maturin series, a solid 4.5 stars. This 'chapter' of the canon continues the voyage of HMS Surprise in the Pacific Ocean following her departure from New South Wales, Australia. We meet the beautiful and mysterious Clarissa Harvill, and become aware of the influence and affects that her presence aboard the ship have on her crew. Miss Harvill helps Stephen Maturin clear up a myst ...more
Mar 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, jack-aubrey, 2014
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
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sea, read-original, war
This book is perhaps the point where the series starts going downhill. Sure, the installments started running into each other way earlier: the last book that can be read on its own is perhaps The Fortune of War. But we enjoyed that, didn't we, dear fellow readers? Why shouldn't a good book be endless, or seemingly endless? - so are the periods of sweet sailing, repeatedly described by O'Brian as taken out of time, self-sufficient and fulfilling.
However, while this book is perhaps as rich in tens
Christopher Taylor
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Richard Burke
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
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
John Condliffe
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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.
Feb 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, war
Most of the series are about men, but it is about sailors in the 1800's, were women on board but not often.
Clarissa Oakes isn't your normal female from the 1800's, but she's not had an easy time of it. O'Brian uses the introduction of a female character to add some tension to the story.
Dec 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, regency
Stephen and Captain Aubrey continue their adventures on the high seas. This book is, like all the rest, full of beautifully understated but rich character moments.
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my
Interesting details on sailing ships. Odd focus on a female stowaway.
Conrad Keely
May 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
I prefer "Clarissa Oakes" for the title. She is a character worthy of a title.
Gilly McGillicuddy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andreas Schmidt
Il meno utile dell'intera collana...
Questo romanzo è il più corto dell'intera collana e mi sembra il meno coerente di quelli letti finora. Appare Clarissa che fa innamorare l'allievo ufficiale forse più idiota della nave, appaiono apparenti problemi in famiglia per i protagonisti, appare il gatto a nove code e un espediente messo lì soltanto per dare un senso compiuto al romanzo che in realtà non avrebbe, l'isola polinesiana spaccata in due da una guerra civile. Con il solito stile e con il soli
Jonathan Walker
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best in the series, because it has a clear plot, and this plot is all the more effective because it concerns psychological conflict rather than open warfare. The catalyst is the introduction of an outsider into an all-male, celibate community: the titular Clarissa Oakes. She affects the whole ship's community, causing deep divisions and conflicts between the officers, for reasons that are initially unclear to us (and remain unclear to Clarissa, until Stephen explains to her). The stor ...more
Dave Mills
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
A bit less excitement, a bit more reflection, but still quite good. Two gems: (1) Jack and Stephen catch Killick with a young girl. "'Killick, come aboard at once,' said Jack . . . 'Come in by the sash-light.' Killick . . . attempted it, fell back into the sea . . . tried again and this time grasped the sill. But he hung there gasping, and it was not until the young woman, with a shriek of laughter, had shoved him from behind, that he came inboard, sodden, resentful, and sadly out of countenance ...more
Joshua Drummond
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is not the usual Aubrey-Maturin novel; it's a slow, careful character study for which naval journeys and battles are reduced mostly to backdrop. As a standalone story, this could prove unsatisfying, but read as a psychological insight into shipboard life it's remarkable - and it's all the more so for Clarissa Oakes, a fantastic, nuanced character who proves to be much more than the victim of her tragic past.
Oct 08, 2017 rated it liked it
The book mainly focuses on the collapse of the esprit de corps on board the Surprise when various members of the crew fall for the wife of one of the officers who is a rescued convict from New South Wales. This vindicates something that Aubrey has been saying in many previous novels. I for one, do not read the Aubrey Maturin series for its views on gender relations so I was fairly disappointed in the novel.
Sep 20, 2017 rated it liked it
This is the first O'Brian since maybe H.M.S. Surprise that I didn't immediately love. I think there might have been too much circling back to familiar arguments and scenes among the characters. However, this is still possibly the greatest series of books of the 20th century, and even a middling O'Brian novel is better than 80% of everything I've ever read. There's plenty of stunning writing to be found here. It's just couched in too familiar plotting and character interactions.
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-to
Beginning at the penal colony in New South Wales, the Surprise crosses the South Pacific. In the process they help an Island queen to defeat her rival and expel the French and Americans in a bloody massacre. Aubrey must also deal with a beautiful stow-away who causes jealous contention among his crew and causes the Reverend Martin to believe himself forever damned by sin.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another excellent book by O'Brian. This one continues Jack and Stephen's adventures in the South Sea, with less naval action but brilliant characterization. Even when the entire story takes place on board the Surprise, O'Brian always makes his narrative world come to life.
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another fine nautical work, I was genuinely taken aback by an unexpected powerful depiction of a particularly horrible act, although as ever O'Brian maintained the literary style of Austen throughout.
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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
More about Patrick O'Brian...

Other Books in the Series

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

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“I am in favour of leaving people alone, however imperfect their polity may seem. It appears to me that you must not tell other nations how to set their house in order; nor must you compel them to be happy.” 14 likes
“You are to consider that a certain melancholy and often a certain irascibility accompany advancing age: indeed it might be said that advancing age equals ill-temper. On reaching the middle years a man perceives that he is no longer able to do certain things, that what looks he may have had are deserting him, that he has a ponderous great belly, and that however much he may yet burn he is no longer attractive to women; and he rebels. Fortitude, resignation and philosophy are of more value than any pills, red, white or blue.” 8 likes
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