The History Book Club discussion

NAPOLEONIC WARS > 3. HF - POST CAPTAIN - CHAPTER 4 (89 - 114) (11/15/10 - 11/21/10) ~ No spoilers, please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

Welcome to the historical fiction discussion of POST CAPTAIN
by Patrick O'Brian.

This is the reading assignment for week three - (Nov 15, 2010 to Nov 21, 2010)

Week Three - November 15 - November 21 - Chapter 4 - p. 89-114

This is the fourth historical fiction group selected book.

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers if you are catching up.

This book was kicked off on November 1st.

This discussion is being led by assisting moderator - Christopher. During the discussion of Master and Commander, Christopher volunteered to steer us through the second book in the series. Please support him in this effort.

We always enjoy the participation of all group members. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, and may be available on Kindle or audible.

This thread opens up Monday, November 15th for discussion. This is a non spoiler thread.




Post Captain (Aubrey/Maturin, #2) by Patrick O'Brian Patrick O'Brian Patrick O'Brian

Please feel free to research the complete Table of Contents and Syllabus on this thread and to see which version Christopher is using.

Post Captain is the second book in the series and comes after Master and Commander.

Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin, #1) by Patrick O'Brian Patrick O'Brian Patrick O'Brian

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

In Chapters 1-3 we saw discord between characters, Jack v. Stephen over Diana Villers, Stephen vs. Diana, Mrs. Williams vs. just about everybody. There was also discord between Jack and being ashore at all.

How is this discord, if at all, related to the declaration of a new war in Chapter 4?

It was hard not to see how Jack wearing a bear suit and being led around by Stephen is a metaphor for Jack's difficulty surviving on shore. Any other thoughts on this? Why does Stephen care for Jack so diligently when Jack is hurting him with his strange relationship to Diana Villiers?

Please feel free to comment on the above or on whatever you find interesting about the book so far.

message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
It is hard to say why Jack always is in the chase and maybe that is the defect in Jack's character that Stephen is aware of but tolerates.

Maybe the fact that Diana is willing to play Stephen like a fiddle; but also at the same time see that Jack is actually hurting him with the Diana relationship - is at some perverse level a protection for Stephen from making a bad love choice and marrying her at this time. Maybe he has an inferiority complex with women and thinks that this is the best he deserves and does not feel that he is that attractive to women.

Who knows hard to say at what level this friendship is bonded. It is also obvious at this point that Stephen is hopelessly in love with Diana and that Jack Aubrey really is in love with somebody else. I guess their loyalty to each other goes beyond Jack's antics.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

My feeling is that the book up to this point is about relationships that are discordant if not destructive. Further, the characters keep doing things they think is going to resolve the discord and it doesn't, or it makes things worse. I think some of this is O'Brian portraying younger people who are at a stage in life where they are seeking companionship and trying to find their places in the world. I also think some of this is O'Brian painting a picture of a world in which people's behavior was sometimes cruelly constrained by circumstances and society.

I suppose this is what makes Jack and Stephen's relationship so interesting. Despite all these things that work against it, they stick together and take care of each other.

message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Dec 10, 2010 10:37AM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
I agree with you Christopher. I think in the case of Stephen, Diana is playing with him and hurting him tremendously. And in the case of Sophia, I think it is Jack who is acting immaturely and potentially hurting Sophia. Both Jack and Diana have similarities in character I believe.

Yes, but in the final analysis, it does seem that their friendship is of sterner stuff than their relationships with these women.

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Those are fair comments, but I wonder if Diana is merely doing what she has to in a world where her choices in life are so limited. She says she only has a few more years before her looks are going to start to go, and men are going to lose interest in her, so she has to find one soon.

Another perspective is that she is what she is, she is her own woman and anyone who does not understand that should get used to the idea of paying the consequences. If Jack or Stephen or anyone else expects her to be something she's not, well, it's their problemm, not hers. I think Stephen may grasp this, and it may be, in part why he is attracted to her.

Thinking about Jack a little more, he's clearly somewhat desperate romantically. He's enamored of Sohpia but in his financial straits the idea of his ever settling with her is pretty close to torture, because the possiblity of his doing so is next to nil. Hence his interest in someone, anyone, Diana? Not Miss RIght, but Miss Right Now? (although I doubt Jack is as calculating as that with Diana, my own feeling is that he is driven to her by desperation, not calculation)

message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
You make some keen observations and I tend to agree in part. Stephen seems to keep himself in the game even though he knows that she is not to be trusted; even with his dearest friends.

As far as Diana, there is an old saying that goes: "You catch more bees with honey than vinegar." I think she would be better served by adhering to that principle. I think Mrs. Williams is doing her more of a disservice than anybody else after herself.

Yes, I do agree that Jack is not much of a thinker and in the department you are talking about; I think he is more driven by hormones than good sense. Sophia at this point is a much better catch than Jack is.

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Another way of looking at Diana is that she is like a lot of beautiful women, she is a prisoner of her beauty. When the whole world looks at you like you're a starlet, you have to spend all your time fending off ravenous males, jealous females, and everyone else in between who might just want to be in the glow of a beautiful creature, or hate her for her beauty. Men throw themselves at her, so what is she supposed to do? (Now I really have to get back to work, but I WILL be checking in)

message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Yes, I appreciate your comments. But then if she has so many choices; why can't she just choose the best one and be monogamous and happy with that choice. Alas...till another time.

message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
I had to laugh that one of the conversations at their Toulon dinner was going to be a discussion of the latest cholera outbreak and new cases of Egyptian pox! Yikes.

message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Aubrey and Maturin arrive in Toulon where they are entertained by their old friend the French captain Christy-Pallière.

Maturin spies about Toulon while Aubrey confides his love troubles to the French captain.

Christy-Pallière confides his own troubles to Aubrey.

So I had to ask myself who was Christy-Palliere?

We learn that the capture of Sophie, Aubrey's first command, was actually done by Christy-Pallière's ship Desaix

message 12: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
I guess one of the aspects that appealed to Aubrey and Maturin with Toulon was that it anglicized and yet beyond the reach of English law; they like the climate and locale. But we learn that Maturin is spying and taking note of all of the boats etc. in the French port and counting up the forces. They learn that the peace is disintegrating and that Bonaparte wants to start up the conflict again.

I agree the preposterous idea of putting Aubrey in a bear suit seems far fetched - he must have been dying inside and I guess he loses almost 50 pounds. Aubrey is lucky that Stephen is as good a friend as he is because as lucky as he has been at sea; it doesn't seem his luck is holding up on land.

For those of you reading this chapter I put the year at about May 1803. It looks like Maturin and Aubrey had spent a year at Polcary Down. They also learn that the French are going to round up all of the Englishmen in Toulon and though Maturin looks Spaniard; Aubrey with his light hair would be certainly spotted as an Englishment - hence the bear suit.

They are warned by their friend that a direct route is best so off they go on their 350 trek with Aubrey dressed as a bear and they end up in the large estate of Maturin.

I still don't think the bear suit is that believable; but they had to get Aubrey out of town.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I think the bear suit is pretty tough to swallow also, but I had two further thoughts:

It is classic O'Brian to have some really implausible event in a book, something that really seems farfetched. Then you do a little research and find out he based it on something that really happened, frequently taken from some actual logbook of a british naval captain.

Also, I think this is (meant to be?) symbolic of the extent to which Aubrey relies on Maturin.

message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Yes, you are right Christopher. And of course Aubrey is at sea on land.

That could be - who knows? Aubrey is out of his element as far as land is concerned and Maturin is more in charge on land versus how they find themselves in naval situations. A complete role reversal - but I can honestly not see how anybody believed that a dead bear fur was a live animal (lol).

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