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The Pirate's Daughter

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The ultimate 'thinking-person's beach read', a novel based on a fascinating kernel of fact.

About the Author

Margaret Cezair-Thompson was born and raised in Jamaica, West Indies. Her first novel, the acclaimed The True History of Paradise", was published in 1999, and was shortlisted for the IMPAC Award. She is a professor of English at Wellesley College, and lives in Massachusetts.


In the late 1940s, Errol Flynn established a home on Navy Island, off the coast of Jamaica. What little is known of this aspect of Flynn's life is the springboard for Cezair-Thompson's fictional account. Told from the perspective of Ida, the young island girl Flynn seduces, and May, the product of their affair, this sprawling story traces the evolution of Jamaica from a British colony through the violence and political upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s. The story is mesmerizing in the first half and loses focus in the second. Fatally flawed as Flynn is, some of the lifeblood of the story is sapped once he dies. The drawn-out conclusion involving the mysterious Austrian Baron Ida eventually marries fails to captivate, partly because the character is such a cipher. Nevertheless, many readers will be pulled into the depiction of the evolving and multiethnic Jamaican culture and the issues of identity the novel raises. Recommended for public libraries.-Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

'An unabashedly frangipani-scented - and wholly satisfying - armchair read' -- Vogue 'Breathtaking pace and verve... a delight' -- Independent 'A love song to a slice of paradise that's teetering on the edge... a complete joy' -- Daily Mirror ' A joy to read, at once humorous, touching and poetic... The Pirate's Daughter" charms as surely as any dashing film hero' -- Sunday Telegraph 'Cezair-Thompson has a light enough touch to tie such weighty issues as race, class and politics...a panorama of the diverse life of Jamaica held together by a sense of beguilement with the island itself' -- Time Out

Cezair-Thompson conjures the tragic glamour of golden age Hollywood against the backdrop of lusty, turbulent Jamaica in her dual generational coming-of-age saga. Ida Joseph is 13 years old when Errol Flynn is nearly shipwrecked off the coast of her hometown of Port Antonio in 1946. Flynn instantly loves Jamaica and, eager to find a refuge from stateside scandal, purchases an island across from the port. Navy Island becomes the setting for his glittering parties, movie projects and affair with Ida in her senior year of high school. Flynn refuses to take responsibility for the resulting child, May, and after trying to make a go of it in Jamaica, Ida leaves May and heads to New York City, where she marries a wealthy baron friend of Flynn's who purchases the island after Flynn dies. May grows to adulthood on Navy Island, develops something more than a crush on a married family friend 40 years her senior and indulges in drugs and free love. Jamaica's tumultuous progression toward self-governance-with the violent chaos it unleashes on Navy Island-reveals certain hidden truths about the baron. For all the high drama, the reader never feels fully privy to Ida or May, but Cezair-Thompson otherwise succeeds magnificently in evoking a world distant in both time and place. (Oct.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Adult/High School-"This is a story that could only have taken place in the tropics, where the climate draws sea rovers, pirates, and desperadoes from all corners of the world." These are the first words of the novel that May Josephine Flynn, the pirate's daughter, writes, and they are true of Cezair-Thompson's novel as well. Set in the West Indies, it is a paean to Jamaica and her people. A fictional love story, the book is peppered with references to real people and events, set against a backdrop of the social and cultural upheaval of an emerging nation, pirate treasure, and old Hollywood excess. It spans 30 years in the lives of one family. Readers follow Ida Joseph, a girl barely in her teens, whose life is changed radically when Errol Flynn is shipwrecked off Jamaica. She falls in love with him and has his child, May. Ida's pining for Flynn shapes her life, but May's yearning is for family and her own rightful place in the world. This is a lush, lovely fairy tale filled with obvious love for the characters, history, and place, rendered in faultless prose and patois. The feel of this novel is of Gone with the Wind in Jamaica instead of the old South, full to the bursting with romantic adventure and epic scope.-Dana Cobern-Kullman, Luther Burbank Middle School, Burbank, CA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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