Kathryn's Reviews > The Reverse of the Medal

The Reverse of the Medal by Patrick O'Brian
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Apr 23, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2007, 2001, reread-books, 2016
Read from February 10 to 25, 2016

1st Recorded Reading: August 2001
2nd Recorded Reading: January 10th, 2007

This is the eleventh book in the Aubrey - Maturin series about life in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, featuring Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin. I have read this book twice before, in August 2001 and again in January, 2007, and while this book does not have as much naval battle action as other books in the series, it is still a very good book.

HMS Surprise is now on her way back home to England; the ship is to be sold out of the service, leaving Aubrey without his favorite ship. He is also concerned about his finances, as he has a civil court case going on, which seems to be enriching only his lawyers. Maturin is concerned mostly about his wife Diana, and whether his letter to her explaining his apparent marital misconduct in Malta (the apparent misconduct was actually his attempt to rout out French spies) was well received by her.

Once in England, Aubrey shares a chaise to London with a stranger who convinces him to invest in the stock market; as peace is coming quite soon, the stocks will rise in value, and Aubrey will be in much better financial shape. Aubrey does buy stock, and tells his father, General Aubrey (a Radical Member of Parliament, and a thorn in the side of the Government), about the opportunity. The General tells his friends, and before the rumors of peace are found to be unfounded, the General and his friends have made a lot of money. When Aubrey is arrested for stock fraud, his father, true to form, abandons his son and flees to Scotland. Meanwhile, Maturin has found that Diana has left him, leaving only a letter which shows that she had heard of his conduct in Malta but had not seen his letter (which he had sent by Andrew Wray, Acting Second Secretary of the Admiralty. He also finds that his godfather has left him his very considerable fortune, and that Sir Joseph Blaine, Maturin's superior in British Naval Intelligence, is convinced that there is corruption in the Naval Intelligence department, and quite possibly treason as well. (Blaine's suspicions are well founded, but neither man knows that Wray is in the pay of the French, and has personal animosity towards both Aubrey and Maturin.) Most of the rest of the book concerns Aubrey's trial, prosecuted by the Crown with considerable venom.

I very much enjoyed re-reading this book, and I will soon be re-reading the next book in the series.
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