Cover image for The nutmeg of consolation
The nutmeg of consolation
O'Brian, Patrick, 1914-2000.
Publication Information:
New York : Norton, 1993.

Physical Description:
315 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm
Format :


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Shipwrecked on a remote island in the Dutch East Indies, Captain Aubrey, surgeon and secret intelligence agent Stephen Maturin, and the crew of the Diane fashion a schooner from the wreck. A vicious attack by Malay pirates is repulsed, but the makeshift vessel burns, and they are truly marooned. Their escape from this predicament is one that only the whimsy and ingenuity of Patrick O'Brian--or Stephen Maturin--could devise.In command now of a new ship, the Nutmeg, Aubrey pursues his interrupted mission. The dreadful penal colony in New South Wales, harrowingly described, is the backdrop to a diplomatic crisis provoked by Maturin's Irish temper, and to a near-fatal encounter with the wildlife of the Australian outback.

Author Notes

Patrick O'Brian is the author of twenty volumes in the highly respected Aubrey/Maturin series of novels.

(Publisher Provided) Patrick O'Brien was born in Ireland in 1914. His education included the Sorbonne.

O'Brian has produced a variety of works, including biographies of Picasso and Sir Joseph Banks and translations of the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir, but he is best known for the creation of an unlikely pair of Napoleonic War-era heroes in the Aubrey-Maturin Series. British naval officer Jack Aubrey and Irish scholar and physician Stephen Maturin have been featured in more than a novels published in Great Britain (five of which have also appeared in America).

He died on January 2, 2000. (Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Yet another of British author Patrick O'Brian's thoughtful, seagoing adventures. Based on naval records of the Napoleonic era, this novel captures the atmosphere of everyday operations on a British naval vessel in the South Pacific. Through the character of Dr. Stephen Maturin, ship's physician and amateur naturalist, the reader is afforded a thinking person's view of battles, disease, politics, international diplomacy, shipwrecks, ports, hobbies, shipboard hierarchy, and manners. Perhaps most interesting of all are the views of Botany Bay and the penal colony of Australia. As relaxed and leisurely as a Conrad novel but piquant with conversation and detail. ~--Cynthia Ogorek

Publisher's Weekly Review

Readers will welcome the reappearance here of elegant Stephen Maturin, one hero of O'Brian's excellent 19th-century seafarer series. Maturin is a ship's doctor, naturalist, spy, musician, ex-opium eater and, we're reminded here, terrific swordsman. His ``brother'' is Capt. Jack Aubrey, RN, MP, popular hero for his success against Napoleon, less introspective but as subtly drawn as Maturin and as avid a musician. Last seen in The Thirteen-Gun Salute the two were shipwrecked on a barren isle in the South China Sea. After a bitter fight with Dyaks and Malays they reach Batavia, where Governor Raffles gives Aubrey the eponymic Dutch sloop (``a tight, sweet, newly-coppered, broad-buttocked litle ship, a solace to any man's heart'') to continue his circumnavigation of the globe. As usual the chief joys are in the details of the food, drink and clothes of the era, with those of the rain forests, kangaroos and platypuses added here. On the other hand, early Sydney's squalor is matched by its brutality. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The latest of O'Brian's many novels of the sea, this is an intriguing story about an early 19th-century British ship as it voyages through the South China Sea. On their way back from concluding a treaty with a local potentate, Captain Jack Aubrey and his crew go through a series of adventures, including shipwreck and a battle with a French frigate. They end up amidst the cruelty of Botany Bay, the penal colony in New South Wales. The crew are, on the whole, a dignified bunch, and some of the characters are very well drawn, including Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, the ship's Irish doctor and naturalist. Some of the best parts of the book are the descriptions of the flora and fauna of the area, and O'Brian certainly knows his stuff about 19th-century seamanship (although landlubber readers may find themselves confused by some of the technical terminology). Recommended for public libraries.-- Bryan Aubrey, Fairfield, Ia. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.