Out of the Napoleonic era, LA Meyer brings us a swashbuckling young woman who conquers the high seas and all other formidable obstacles, whether natural or of human design. The series of novels features Mary "Jacky" Faber, a waif orphaned in London who must live by her wits, of which she has considerable in supply.
The action-packed adventures of a girl at sea was not what I expected when I requested "Under the Jolly Roger." Nonetheless Jacky Faber won my complete attention from the moment she swaggered ashore from the deck of the Pequod. Characteristically, she is more comfortable in the Admiral Benbow Inn or the main-mast rigging of a tall ship than she is on London streets or a Massachusetts school for girls, both settings covered in earlier (and later) novels. The counterpoint to the excitement of her adventures is her comely youth and that the male-dominated world she moves in confidence is all too quick to dismiss her as "just a girl." At every turn, it is to their surprise, if not also misfortune, to underestimate her capabilities.
While the plot proceeds at a quick pace there is a significant difference between her feats and the adventures of, say, a hero in the mold of Rin Tin Tin, who is incapable of doing wrong for the right reason. Instead, Jacky's humanity leads her as easily into trouble as out of it. Jacky's naive misinterpretations of situations, her daring do and her compulsion to speak the unvarnished truth land her in predicaments that are largely brought on or aggravated by her plucky spirit. It is the same pluck that wins the hearts of her companions and readers.
Next up for me: "In the Belly of the Bloodhound," in which she and 30 some classmates from a Boston girls' school are abducted by pirates to be sold into the harems of Araby. This looks perilous, yes, but never hopeless.
--Bob S., Rock Road Branch