Jester’s Fortune picks up the career of Dewey Lambdin’s character, Alan Lewrie, where A King’s Commander ended.
It is 1796 and Admiral Sir John Jervis has just succeeded Admiral Sir William Hotham to command of the Mediterranean theater. A previous obscure Corsican artilleryman is beating the unbeatable Austrians like a rented mule and the various Italian states are falling like dominoes.
Jervis decides to send a small squadron into the Adriatic to harry French commerce and to demonstrate support to both Venice and Austria.
Major spoilers to follow.
The Gun Ketch covers the year 1793 in the career of Dewey Lambdin’s naval character, Alan Lewrie.
As the story opens in January, 1793. Lewrie has been living for 4 years as a tenant farmer on the estate of Caroline’s uncle, Phineas Chiswick. Lewrie is bored. His grandmother has died living him well off financially. He has three children. He was called up in 1791 for six weeks during the Nootka Sound crisis but the rest of the time he’s been on half pay. He also has feelings of inadequacy as he simply isn’t mastering farming the way he did seamanship, even though the has applied himself diligently. He and Caroline, because of the circumstances of their wedding (see The Gun Ketch) finds himself socially isolated for the local gentry.
As war with Revolutionary France becomes inevitable he receives a message from the Admiralty directing him to report to London for an assignment.
Major spoilers follow.
A lot of the action in the Alan Lewrie novel by Dewey Lambdin, The Gun Ketch, centers on Walker’s Cay and the surrounding waters. In the novel, Walker’s Cay is a pirate rendezvous. While a lot of the Bahamanian cays were, in the day, pirate lairs today Walker’s Cay is a center of diving, fishing, and eco-tourism.
One of the interesting thing I’m encountering in this project is teasing fact out from fiction. In reality, we don’t know a whole lot about life on an man o’ war of the Age of Sail. Some accounts have come down to us but they don’t talk about a lot of the details because that information was self evident to people of the time. Novels by people like Frederick Marryat can provide us with a lot of insight but we are hampered by the fact that they are fiction and we know how well our own fiction reflects modern society and current events.
Obviously, a novelist writing of this period must use his imagination and knowledge to fill in blank spots much as a modern archaeologist works to fill in the historical record based on clues, intuition, and deduction. The better the author, the harder it will be to tell where the seams are between what is known and what is guessed. For an excellent example of work in this genre, read Frederick Forsyth’s Day of the Jackal
So where is this going?
Just uploaded the list of ships, characters, and literary references from Dewey Lambdin’s Alan Lewrie novel The Gun Ketch to scribd.com
The Gun Ketch covers the years 1786-1789 in the career of Dewey Lambdin’s naval character, Alan Lewrie.
It opens with Lieutenant Alan Lewrie in England after his return from the Far East as chronicled in The King’s Privateer. While awaiting his new ship, the converted bomb ketch HMS Alacrity, he takes advantage of this opportunity to visit the Chiswick family, North Carolina loyalists with whom he became acquainted during the American Revolution (see The French Admiral) and with whom he renewed that acquaintance before his last commission. He finds the family well situated as tenant farmers on the Surrey estate of the brother of the family patriarch, with the older brother, Gouvernour, married into the family of the local squire, Sir Romney Embleton.
Major spoilers follow.