A month ago, Jamie Malanowski offered A Centenary Salute to Patrick O’Brian:
Let us pause in the day’s labors to raise a glass, preferably containing Madeira or a rich, full-bodied port, to the centenary of the greatest historical novelist ever, and one of the best novelists of our era.
Patrick O’Brian was born Dec. 12, 1914—or, rather, Richard Patrick Russ was born on that date in Chalfont St. Peter, England, and grew up to become a novelist of middling success. O’Brian was technically born in 1946, when Russ adopted that pen name and went on to develop a new persona as an elusive Irish writer ensconced in the south of France.
Although O’Brian would produce much estimable fiction and nonfiction under his nom de plume, his signal achievement was the series of 20 novels set during the Napoleonic Wars and informed by O’Brian’s encyclopedic knowledge of nautical matters from that era. The heart of the novels is the friendship between the charismatic Captain Jack Aubrey of the British navy and the Irish-Catalan Dr. Stephen Maturin.
I have a pile of the Aubrey/Maturin novels, but I’ve only read Master and Commander so far. And given how I’ve been reading historical fiction from an earlier era recently, it might be a while until I get back around to them.
I’d better start eating better because I’ve got a lot of books and series I’ve got to get back around to.