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Thursday, 20 July 2017

Book review - Upon Dark Waters

Robert Radcliffe’s  2003 novel is Upon Dark Waters written as if the events and characters were real, and the author succeeds, even though the ending is disappointing. Real life can be disappointing. But it can also be glorious, romantic, colourful, dangerous and touched by remarkable bravery.

It’s 1942 and the narrator, Stephen Tomlin, is a new Midshipman on the corvette Daisy; the ship is one of several tasked with convoy duties in the North Atlantic. The depiction of the convoys is excellent, and the ship’s crew are believable characters, from the captain to the lowliest crewman.

One of the characters on Daisy is Sub Lieutenant Michael George José-Luis Quemada Villiers, RNVR. His story is told in the third person, and essentially the book is about him. He was born ‘sputtering and bloody into the world…’ in Uruguay. His mother was a beauty, Aurora who married an English diplomat. It reads like a family saga, but it’s interspersed with the survivors in a rowing boat in the Atlantic. Well researched, with an intense feeling for the people of the pampas, the story races towards the historic Battle of the River Plate.

An excellent, well-written novel.

At the front is a double page spread diagram of the ship:

Robert Radcliffe is the pen-name for Robert Mawson.

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