The History Book Club discussion

52 views
NAPOLEONIC WARS > 1. HF - MR. MIDSHIPMAN HORNBLOWER - CHAPTER I (3- 39) (01/17/11 - 01/23/11) ~ No spoilers, please

Comments Showing 1-48 of 48 (48 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

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

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

Welcome to the historical fiction discussion of Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. Forester.

This is the reading assignment for week one - (January 17, 2011 to January 23, 2011)

Week One: Jan 17 - Jan 23 -> Chapter I: Hornblower and the Even Chance, pages 3-39 (37 pages)


This is the fifth 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 will be kicked off on January 17th.

This discussion is being led by assisting moderator of historical fiction - Elizabeth S. We are glad to have her back for this selection.

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, or on your Kindle.

This thread opens up Monday, January 17th for discussion. This is a non spoiler thread.

Welcome,

~Bentley


TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. Forester C.S. Forester C.S. Forester


message 2: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Welcome to our Mister Midshipman Hornblower discussion! We'll be spending the next few months with this classic tale, the first of 11 in the series by C. S. Forester. For those who haven't joined us for a historical fiction discussion before, here's the general outline of how it will go each week. We'll be reading about one chapter a week (see the syllabus here: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/4...). Each Monday I'll open the week's discussion with a short overview of the week's reading. For those of you who've read the book before, that should help you remember how far along we are, and what is fair game to discuss. Please refrain from referring to events that are later in the book, or series, than the current week's reading. Anything previous in the book is, of course, fair game. If any of you would like to share information about events later in the book, please use the Final Thoughts thread for the book, where spoilers are welcome: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/4.... In addition, please post interesting external information in the glossary thread, where spoilers are also allowed: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/4....

There are lots of things to discuss relating to the book. As with our discussion of Master and Commander last year, my main interest is in the historical aspect of the events. What is accurately or not accurately depicted? What does the book teach us about late 18th century sailing and the British navy? What additional historical facts help us understand the story? For those who have read Master and Commander, how do the books compare? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? It is also interesting to discuss how Mister Midshipman Hornblower is written, Forester's word choice, and character development.

In your initial post, please let us know if you are reading MMH for the first time, or if you've read it before. Also, have you read more in the series? For me, I'd never read it until a few months ago when I read it in preparation for this discussion. I very much enjoyed it and have since read several more books in the series. I hope everyone enjoys the book as much as I did, and that we have some great discussions about MMH and the history of the times.

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

On your marks, get set, GO!


message 3: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Chapter 1, Hornblower and the Even Chance, begins with 17 year old Horatio Hornblower on his way to his first assignment at sea. He is a junior midshipman aboard the Justinian under Captain Keene. Unfortunately, Captain Keene is sickly and the Justinian is rather inactive. Partly because of nervous tension, Hornblower is seasick his first day. With an inactive captain and a lazy first lieutenant, the senior midshipman John Simpson is free to bully the others, especially Hornblower. Life is miserable for the young midshipman known for being seasick his first day on board.

Later, Hornblower is ashore under Simpson's command with a press gang. One evening they meet Lieutenant Chalk who advocates a game of whist. Hornblower and Chalk are both quite good. Simpson is not. To cover his embarrassment, Simpson accuses Hornblower of cheating. Hornblower, seeing a way out of his misery even if by death, challenges Simpson to a duel. Strange conditions are set, however. Only one pistol is loaded, with just one shot, pistols are chosen by coin toss and shot at point-blank range.

When the duel occurs, Hornblower decides he can't really kill Simpson like that and points his pistol into Simpson's shoulder. His pistol does not fire, and neither does Simpson's. Back aboard the Justinian, Hornblower enters Captain Keene's office and asks why the captain arranged for both pistols to be unloaded. Keene says he did it to save a "life for the King's service... a young life." He further says he has arranged for Hornblower to be transferred to the Indefatigable, an active ship that offers chances for prize money and promotion. The transfer was easy to arrange because the Indefatigable's captain, Captain Pellew, needed a fourth man on board to play his favorite game of whist. Hornblower feels honor bound to refuse the transfer, but Keene says it would be better for the Royal Navy as well as Hornblower.


message 4: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments As one of those weirdos who loves math, especially trig, I enjoy the little references to how important math is to running a ship.

Simpson is referred to as being "weak in mathematics" (pg 13) and Captain Keene praises Hornblower for correctly calculating a location (page 16). I thought there was a mention of sines and cosines somewhere, but I can't find it.


message 5: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments So, what do you all think of Hornblower so far? It was interesting for me to reread this first chapter after having read some of the other books in the series. (I won't go into more detail, so as not to spoil other books for people.)

While this is the first chapter we see in Hornblower's life, it was not the first written by Forester. Five other books about Hornblower's later career were written first. It must be interesting to go back and write the beginning of the saga after having made passing hints and references to it in other books.


message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Elizabeth S wrote: "Welcome to our Mister Midshipman Hornblower discussion! We'll be spending the next few months with this classic tale, the first of 11 in the series by C. S. Forester. For those who haven't joined u..."

Great kickoff Elizabeth as always. I am beginning the book today and will post back.


message 7: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments For those of you who want to know, a "midshipman" was basically the most junior officer aboard a Royal Navy ship. Officially, a midshipman was in training to become a commissioned naval officer. Wikipedia has lots more information about midshipmen, including the history of the term: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midshipman


message 8: by Michael (last edited Jan 17, 2011 02:11PM) (new)

Michael Flanagan (loboz) What a great opening chapter and introduction to Mr. Hornblower. It had a touch of evrything fear, action and despair to name a few. I am loving the use of language in this book so far, fits in very well with the tale. Some very "old school words" we don't hear enough of.


message 9: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Amen, Michael. I think it is because of Forester's use of language that Hemingway said, "I recommend Forester to every literate I know." Good stuff.


message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 17, 2011 03:28PM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Elizabeth, I have my book in hand and am ready to go. Just as an FYI: this book was not available on Kindle or audible or either ebook stores (Barnes and Noble or Borders); but I was able to get my physical book at Barnes and Noble. I am sure that libraries everywhere have this series. However, if you live in the UK, you can get a copy via Kindle but not if you reside in the United States.


message 11: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Wow. Nowadays if it is hard to find on ebook, that severely limits how many people can/will read it.

For anyone out there who wonders if it is worth it, I highly recommend the book and the series. Very interesting historical times and events, fun characters, lots of good things to discuss, and great action/adventure.


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

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
I think that this is a worthwhile series as well; but I think that the book is easy to obtain in book stores, Amazon, and all other on line booksellers. Just not on Kindle (unless you are in the UK) and not on Audible. All libraries have this series.


message 13: by Michael (new)

Michael Flanagan (loboz) You can also get a copy if you are in Australia. Wich is wierd because it's normally the other way around, a lot off books available in the USA but not in the land of Oz


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Well, I live in the USA and very simply bought a paperback copy. It didn't prove too arduous :-)

Anyway, I'm given to understand that MMH is a collection of short stories rather than one longer narrative broken up into chapters. I'm not well versed in the short story form, but with the few I have read, including this first chapter, I marvel at the way the author is able to deftly convey so much about the characters and setting. There's no room for lengthy backstory or exposition so everything the reader learns has to be extrapolated from the ongoing action.

From the text itself, I gathered that at about this time, the British Navy must have had a hard time getting men for their ships by the fact that: 1) they allowed a seventeen-year old to sign on as a midshipmen when the average age for this spot was about twelve years of age; 2) men were being pressed into service and; 3) there were "corralling" parties sent ashore to prevent the pressed men from escaping. So, the as-yet-to-be-seen events in the wide world must be sucking up a lot of men.

As for Hornblower himself, oh, my, what a geek! Awkward, smart, shy, seasick... he might as well have had a bulls eye painted on him! It was a bit painful to watch, but since there are a few more books about him, I'm gathering he's made out well enough :-D

This is my first time out with Forester, and ergo, MMH. So far, so good.


message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Tanya, you made me laugh as I sit with my paperback copy (smile).

You raise a great point; I already had questions about the time period, the ships, the situation, the characters from the get go. Hornblower does seem to be the opposite of his name in many respects as you so aptly pointed out.


message 16: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 18, 2011 03:08PM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
I have completed Chapter One and just love the adventure. Great writing actually. Will post some of the language I enjoyed a bit later. I have to say that I do not play whist so I was a bit lost there.


message 17: by Michael (new)

Michael Flanagan (loboz) Bentley wrote: "I have completed Chapter One and just love the adventure. Great writing actually. Will post some of the language I enjoyed a bit later. I have to say that I do not play whist so I was a bit lost..."

I had the same issue as well with whist bentley. so i turned to good old Wikipedia for some help.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whist


message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 18, 2011 06:30PM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
It sounds like an interesting game. And thanks Michael. But I can't say I have a feel for the game even after reading it. (lol)


message 19: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 18, 2011 09:02PM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
How did folks feel about the Captain on the ship; I have to say that I changed my mind about him by the end of the chapter. A clever codger; duplicitous but actually a huge help to Hornblower. I love Forester's characterizations thus far; in fact as much as I love O'Brian, I have to admit that I think Forester's writing has even more depth.


Patrick O'Brian Patrick O'Brian

C. S. Forester (no photo available)


message 20: by Michael (new)

Michael Flanagan (loboz) Bentley wrote: "How did folks feel about the Captain on the ship; I have to say that I changed my mind about him by the end of the chapter. A clever codger; duplicitous but actually a huge help to Hornblower. I ..."

A man how knows his end is nigh and is maybe starting to show his softer side. One would think he knows how a boy like Hornblower would be treated on his ship.


message 21: by Elizabeth S (last edited Jan 19, 2011 06:14AM) (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments To answer some of Tanya's points:

Unlike the other books in the series, Forester wrote this one with named chapters, almost as if each chapter were its own short story. However, none of the individual chapters were ever published as separate short stories. To some extent, that is an interesting literary choice. What are the advantages/disadvantages of writing a book this way?

As Tanya says:

There's no room for lengthy backstory or exposition so everything the reader learns has to be extrapolated from the ongoing action.

This can be both a plus and a minus in various ways. It helps move things along, but there is less time for explanations and establishing the setting.


message 22: by Elizabeth S (last edited Jan 19, 2011 06:24AM) (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Tanya wrote: "...From the text itself, I gathered that at about this time, the British Navy must have had a hard time getting men for their ships by the fact that: 1) they allowed a seventeen-year old to sign on as a midshipmen when the average age for this spot was about twelve years of age; 2) men were being pressed into service and; 3) there were "corralling" parties sent ashore to prevent the pressed men from escaping. So, the as-yet-to-be-seen events in the wide world must be sucking up a lot of men...."

Definitely the navy had to work to staff its ships. There were a lot of ships, and life at sea was hard. Death was common aboard ship, even when not in combat. Hard to have a family when you are gone for years at a time, so you could even say that natural selection would weed out those with genetic dispositions for sea life. :)

So, yes, there were press gangs. Wikipedia says, "The Impress Service was formed to force sailors to serve on naval vessels (there was no concept of joining the navy for non-officers at the time)" and, "The main problem with recruiting, though, was a simple lack of qualified seamen during wartime, when it became necessary for the Navy to quickly recruit an extra 20,000 (early 18th century) to 40,000 men (late 18th century)." Also, evidently a seaman's pay in the navy was about half what he would get on a merchant ship. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impressment for more info.)

I think 17 was a reasonable age for a new midhsipman, however. It says in wikipedia "Beginning in 1840s, the normal entry age for executive officer cadets, those destined to command ships and fleets, was between 12 and 13." I think that means that 12 & 13 was when boys would start their training towards becoming midshipmen, which sounds like it took at least 2-3 years. Note also that it does not say "average age," so while we may get some boys who are 14 or 15, we aren't necessarily getting some who are 10 or 11.

Regardless, from the text we see a wide range in the age of midshipmen aboard the Justinian. On page 10 it says, "the midshipmen's berth... was occupied by men all a good deal older ... elderly master's mates recruited from the merchant service, and midshipmen in their twenties." I wonder what the age range for active midshipmen across the Navy was, and how common it would be for a ship to have such a group of midshipmen.


message 23: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Bentley wrote: "I have completed Chapter One and just love the adventure. Great writing actually. Will post some of the language I enjoyed a bit later. I have to say that I do not play whist so I was a bit lost..."

Have you ever learned or played a game that involves the taking of tricks? We played Rook in my family sometimes when I was growing up, and that helped me understand a lot of the terminology for whist. The link was even more enlightening, Michael, thanks.


message 24: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Bentley wrote: "How did folks feel about the Captain on the ship; I have to say that I changed my mind about him by the end of the chapter. A clever codger; duplicitous but actually a huge help to Hornblower. I ..."

Well said, Bentley. I was reading him as a man who felt his life and career were basically over, but could wake up enough to push a young squirt like Hornblower in the right direction. Kinda like a person who is sinking and is too heavy to be saved, so they use their last shred of buoyancy to help a kid to safety. I wonder if there is any more backstory on Captain Keene anywhere.


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

"--- 'look at him, I say! The King's latest bad bargain. How old are you?'
'S-seventeen, sir,' stuttered Hornblower.
'Seventeen!' the disgust in the speaker's voice was only too evident.'You must start at twelve if you ever wish to be a seaman. Seventeen!...'"

I read the wikipedia article on midshipmen that was provided from the discussion and recalled a similar discussion in regard to the M&C series (another group a few years ago) about the age of entry level midshipmen. There is nothing to say how long one could be held back as a midshipmen, especially if the candidate for promotion wasn't very good at math and therefore navigation (i.e. Simpson) but the idea was that young boys started getting schooled at a very young age. The fact that Hornblower is getting a relatively late start is another point that emphasizes his awkwardness, his being out-of-place and, that the Navy was hurting for personnel.

Now, as a person with history books and the internet at my disposal, I know what the historical circumstances of the British Navy was at this time; but I'm actually trying to use only the story itself as a means to discover what is going on in Hornblower's world. That's the key to appreciating each of the chapters as a short story. In a way, each of of the chapters *is* the back story for the other narratives in the series, providing clues as to the man Hornblower will become. The advantage to Forester writing MMH in this way, and after other novels in the series had already been written, is that he knows exactly what "tells" he wants to provide. While it might be interesting to learn more about Captain Keene for instance, more is not needed to facilitate the tory of "Hornblower and the Even Chance."

As I mentioned, I am not well-versed in the short story form; but my early evaluation is that it forces the author to be efficient. One could layer back story ad infinitum, but keeping the story relevant to the purpose at hand is most important. The disadvantage is that when current interpretations expand the horizon of the short story, a new mythos can become the legacy. Every generation of reader brings a different sensibility to the material. While that could said to be true of any literary form, the short story is most vulnerable to this only because there are more opportunities to "fill in the blanks" as it were.


message 26: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Elizabeth S wrote: "Bentley wrote: "How did folks feel about the Captain on the ship; I have to say that I changed my mind about him by the end of the chapter. A clever codger; duplicitous but actually a huge help to..."

I am not sure; but some of these decisions by the captain actually saved Hornblower's life while at the same time the Captain knew that Hornblower really could not do anything about his decision because he was the Captain. The Captain also saved him further from the wrath of Simpson while at the same time placing him in a much better career situation. All terrific saves by this Captain; he was a real guardian angel.


message 27: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Tanya wrote: ""--- 'look at him, I say! The King's latest bad bargain. How old are you?'
'S-seventeen, sir,' stuttered Hornblower.
'Seventeen!' the disgust in the speaker's voice was only too evident.'You must s..."


Great post Tanya.


message 28: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Lots of good points, Tanya. I was thinking that the quotation about "You must start at twelve if you ever with to be a seaman" was referring to the fact that Hornblower was stepping on a ship for the first time ever, not that he was an old midshipman. According to the wikipedia article, most new midshipmen had at least 2-3 years of sea-time under their belts, at first doing things like being cabin boys, servants to officers, carrying shot (I forget what the term is for that), being regular seamen, etc. I'm also kinda curious what Hornblower's path to midshipman was, i.e. why he didn't need to have spent that time aboard ship.


message 29: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 19, 2011 09:40AM) (new)

Bentley wrote: "How did folks feel about the Captain on the ship; ..."

Tanya wrote: "...The disadvantage is that when current interpretations expand the horizon of the short story, a new mythos can become the legacy. Every generation of reader brings a different sensibility to the material. While that could said to be true of any literary form, the short story is most vulnerable to this only because there are more opportunities to "fill in the blanks" as it were... "

LOL, what I was thinking about Captain Keene actually illustrates what I was saying about creating a new mythos. There is actually very little about the Captain (one paragraph on page 10 ("For the Justinian was not a happy ship...") and the dialogue at the end when Hornblower confronted the Captain; but I had already "filled in the blanks" by deciding that the Captain suffered from gout! I imagined him in near constant pain, often in his cabin being bled and, not inspiring the confidence of his crew (sick captains don't get the big prizes.) Now, while my theory could be supported by the text, the idea that he has gout is my own, it's an idea I've imported from other sources (most recently The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (by David Mitchell.))

Captain Keene's illness played into my perception of his character. Constantly suffering, nearing the end of his career, idle at Spitshead, with a crew he can no longer manage, having Preston stand proxy for him when interaction is demanded.... well, he could have said "eff it, have both guns loaded and let's get rid of both fools" or even just let the duel play out as originally planned; but he didn't. Reduced to his present circumstances, both physically and in his career, he used what was left of his limited capacity to affect change, showing wisdom and earning a bit of dignity.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell by David Mitchell David Mitchell


message 30: by Elizabeth S (last edited Jan 19, 2011 09:07AM) (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments By the way, everyone, it is fair game to bring in historical references and information not found in MMH (Mister Midshipman Hornblower). In many ways, this is encouraged to help us understand the times and accuracy (or lack of accuracy) in the book. Of course it is also interesting at times to see what we can glean merely from the book itself, but that is not required.

Also, when referring to the book under discussion, we don't need to add the links every time we mention the book. Bentley does it once at the beginning of the thread, and that works for the entire thread so we don't have the same link pictures in every comment.

Edit: Do add the pictures and links for any other book you mention, as Tanya did in the immediately previous post. Tanya, be sure to include the author name link again when putting the book links at the end, so the reference looks complete. Thanks!

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell by David Mitchell David Mitchell


message 31: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Dunbar | 18 comments Elizabeth S wrote: "Hornblower, seeing a way out of his misery even if by death, challenges Simpson to a duel. Strange conditions are set, however. Only one pistol is loaded, with just one shot, pistols are chosen by coin toss and shot at point-blank range. ... When the duel occurs, Hornblower decides he can't really kill Simpson like that and points his pistol into Simpson's shoulder. His pistol does not fire, and neither does Simpson's."

I will admit to not reading the stories, but I have watched the A&D DVDs of the series multiple times. It is interesting to see the first of what I am sure will be many differences between the TV series and the book. For instance, in the TV series, there is a character called Clayton who is an older midshipman on the Justinian; he has sort of taken Horatio under his wing.

The events of the press gang and the card game are the same, but after Hornblower accepts the challenge, the next scene is onboard ship with Clayton and Horatio talking. Clayton feels shamed by Hornblower and proceeds to knock him out and take his place for the duel with Mr. Simpson. Clayton shoots Simpson in the shoulder and Simpson shoots Clayton in the abdomen. BTW, the duelists stood back to back, took five paces each, turned, and on a three count, fired their shots.

Hornblower recovers, takes a boat to the port, and rushes to the inn where both duelists are being treated for their wounds. Clayton dies, and soon after, Kennedy announces that the French had executed their king and that the war was on. When Hornblower and Kennedy return to the Justinian, minus the wounded Simpson, Kennedy announces that they have been reassigned to the frigate Indefatigable.

Also, according to the TV show, Hornblower's father was a doctor and had apparently been treating the Justinian's captain. The TV show did not go into detail, that I recall, why Hornblower did not have to have 2 to 3 years of sea-time, though I speculate that the captain owed Horatio's father a favor.

@Elizabeth S - I think the term is "powder monkey".

Cheers!

Christopher


message 32: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Thanks for the term, Christopher! Sometimes things just don't come to mind in time.

Also, what interesting plot differences book to movie. Whether or not you read the book, Christopher, I hope you don't mind continuing to share such plot stuff with us.

I believe it mentions somewhere in the books that Hornblower's father is a doctor, but I don't think there was that connection with Captain Keene. I can see why that would be something added for the movie.


message 33: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
No, not in the first chapter anyways. Was actually interested to understand how Hornblower or why Hornblower decided on this particular career.


message 34: by Patricrk (new)

Patricrk patrick | 435 comments Elizabeth S wrote: "Lots of good points, Tanya. I was thinking that the quotation about "You must start at twelve if you ever with to be a seaman" was referring to the fact that Hornblower was stepping on a ship for ..."

those kinds of jobs for ship boys were for the lower class. Officers were from the higher classes. It was a common practice for a candidate for midshipman to be put on a ships roll (of a ship captained by a family friend) for several years before he actually joined the ship so he could get his required "ship time" before taking his Lt. exam.


message 35: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Something that really tickles me is Hornblower's birthday. Did any of you notice? It is July 4, 1776.


message 36: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Yes, I did...thought that was interesting. Obviously, an underlining affection for the US by the author when he makes his hero have that particular birthday.


message 37: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments And I love the irony of it, that a British Naval officer would have such a birthday.


message 38: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Very true.


message 39: by Elizabeth S (last edited Jan 21, 2011 06:38AM) (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Were there any sections in this chapter that just made you smile?

For me, I giggled a little over the conversation Hornblower had with his seconds before the duel. I liked how they offered him a little alcohol with the reminder that "There is no special need for a steady hand this morning." Ha, at point-blank range, even a raving drunk should be able to hit his target!

The seconds bring up how useful (or not useful) the surgeon will be, then ask Hornblower how he is feeling. I love how Hornblower answers them, "forbearing to add that he only felt well enough while this kind of conversation was not being carried on." (Both quotations from page 31.)


message 40: by Vincent (new)

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1246 comments This is my first time reading this book and it is very good. The character development and story is so good that I may well have trouble reading only a chapter a week. I checked his other books and found that the only one I recall reading was The Gun

The Gun by C.S. Forester
C.S. Forester

which was excellent (probably read about 40 years or so ago) and I never looked for other books by the same author but now I have a refound author to read.

Captain Keene may have been more observant than one might easily think and one could think that he thought that Hornblower would not live to complete a voyage on a vessel with Mr. Simpson.


message 41: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Vince, don't forget to include the author name link:
The Gun by C.S. Forester by C.S. Forester C.S. Forester

I'm glad you are really liking the book and the author. I think one chapter a week is hard with any fiction book. (Which is why I usually read the whole book in advance, then reread one chapter a week with the group.)

I wonder if Captain Keene realized how close to suicide Hornblower was. It seems that everyone on the ship underestimated his ability to notice such things, not to mention his willingness to do anything about it.


message 42: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Dunbar | 18 comments Vince wrote: "Captain Keene may have been more observant than one might easily think and one could think that he thought that Hornblower would not live to complete a voyage on a vessel with Mr. Simpson. "

and

Elizabeth S wrote: "I wonder if Captain Keene realized how close to suicide Hornblower was. It seems that everyone on the ship underestimated his ability to notice such things, not to mention his willingness to do anything about it. "

For those who will eventually watch the movies, in "The Duel", where these events take place with Hornblower on the Justinian, Captain Keene only appears in three scenes with Hornblower. The first scene is in Keene's cabin, where Keene says "do your duty and no harm will come to you". The other two scenes I don't think have been mentioned in the chapters you are reading, so I won't spoil.

However, there was little or no indication in the movie that Keene was aware of problems between Simpson and Hornblower. Of course he would have known what kind of man Simpson was, since Keene would have been aware of - in the movie - Simpson's being bucked from acting lieutenant to midshipman, but there was no indication, that I recall, that Keene kept close watch over Hornblower or interceded in any way. From the descriptions of the livestock onboard, prostitutes, drunkenness, and that men like Simpson were allowed to terrorize fellow midshipmen, that the Justinian was an ill-managed ship. I think it was Kennedy who said something to the effect that Keene was far from keen.

It is interesting that the book suggests, based on your comments, that Keene was more aware of things and did more behind the scenes than people gave him credit.

Anyway, that's just an observation from someone who hasn't read the book but who has watched the movies several times (and will again next week).

Cheers!

Christopher


message 43: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Steven wrote: "...With your love of numbers you may have made a good Naval Officer."

Thanks. :) Unfortunately, my overwhelming motion sickness would get in the way. It would be fun for me if one of these Naval series included more details about the math, but I know that would be a downer for most people.

By the way, be sure to add the required book cover and author links when mentioning books, like this:

Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin, #1) by Patrick O'Brian Post Captain (Aubrey/Maturin, #2) by Patrick O'Brian H.M.S. 'Surprise' (Aubrey/Maturin Book 3) by Patrick O'Brian etc. by Patrick O'Brian Patrick O'Brian
and
The Med (Dan Lenson, #1) by David Poyer The Gulf (Dan Lenson, #2) by David Poyer The Crisis A Dan Lenson Novel (Dan Lenson Novels) by David Poyer etc. by David Poyer


message 44: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Christopher, thanks for your interesting insights as a movie-Hornblower fan. Someday either you need to read the book or I need to see the movies (or both) so we can really compare notes! And thanks for avoiding spoilers.

The book doesn't really give any sign that Keene is watching over Hornblower, until suddenly after the duel it is revealed that Keene arranged for both pistols to be unloaded. We are left to decide for ourselves whether it was a minor thing to Keene, or if he had been avidly/secretly watching Hornblower, or something in between.


message 45: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 23, 2011 08:37PM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Dree we are putting your comment about the entire book in the Book as a Whole thread where it should be posted.

Thank you for your understanding.

All others who do get ahead of schedule and would like to comment and give their review; please of course feel free to have expansive discussions and the like on the Book as a Whole thread which is not a non spoiler thread like this one is.

Here is the link to the Final Thoughts (Book as a Whole) thread:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/4...


message 46: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 23, 2011 08:38PM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Folks,

Discussions regarding the Hornblower movies have been moved to that thread (Vince and Christopher).

Thank you for your understanding.

Here is the link to the Hornblower Movies thread:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/4...


message 47: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Dunbar | 18 comments Bentley wrote: "Folks,

Discussions regarding the Hornblower movies have been moved to that thread (Vince and Christopher).

Thank you for your understanding."


Thank you, Bentley; I just saw Vince's comment and I replied, not noticing we were in the book thread. Cheers!


message 48: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
No problem at all Christopher. Thank you for responding and for your understanding. We try to keep an organized house (smile).


back to top