The Guernseyman, by C. Northcote Parkinson

by admin on June 9, 2010

This The Guerneyman, by C. Northcote Parkinson is the sixth novel of C. Northcote Parkinson’s renowned nautical fiction series about Richard Delancey, but actually the first in terms of the chronology of the series. The Guernseyman introduces the main character and tells the strange tale of his rise from volunteer to lieutenant.

Here, Richard Delancey, the future naval hero, leaves his home in the Channel Islands. He sets out for Liverpool, where he has relatives that can give him a position in their business. The action in this book takes place in the years 1775-1777.

However, things turn out differently for young Delancey. He inadvertently becomes embroiled in labor riots in Liverpool and avoids punishment by “volunteering” for the Royal Navy. Due to his manners and education, he is promoted to clerk, and eventually he becomes a midshipman. His ship sails for New York. There he meets his American family and gets entangled in a love affair with his attractive cousin Charlotte. But this is not to be, and he is sent him back across the sea.

Back home, Delancey is instrumental in defending the Isle of Jersey against a foolish French attempt to seize the island. Then he reenters a ship, and soon finds himself in Gibraltar, where once again he takes part in defensive action, this time against a combined French/Spanish attack. We follow Delancey’s intriguing boat attack against the monstrous floating batteries that the Spanish built, as well as some other action. He displays considerable wits and courage, and is well liked. And in the end, he does achieve the King’s commission that he had been hoping for.

Even though this surely is a naval fiction book, and even a good one, most of the action takes place on land, and the focus is more military than naval. The story is very good, and certainly held my interest. It is an interesting book, a well written. And even though it is not among the best in the series, it gives background about the hero which is good to know, and is quite entertaining.

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