Cover image for Maiden voyage : a novel
Maiden voyage : a novel
McLaughlin, Ann L., 1928-
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Publication Information:
Santa Barbara, CA : John. Daniel & Co., [1999]

Physical Description:
319 pages : map ; 22 cm
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Defying convention, the young journalist Julia MacLean signs on as personal secretary to the world-famous mogul and oceanography enthusiast Samuel E Dawson as he embarks on a trip around the world aboard his the Sophia. This is quite a daring move for a young woman in 1924, especially a young woman raised in polite Southern society. But Julia is no ordinary woman, and the trip is the chance of a lifetime.It's not all smooth sailing: before they reach the open seas, Julia discovers that the great Mr. Dawson (loosely based upon E. W. Scripps) is not only brilliant, inspiring and generous, but demanding, exasperating, selfish and egotistical. He's a bundle of contradictions, energy and ill health, and working for him is no easy task. Julia is almost overwhelmed by Dawson's complexity and the difficulty of satisfying his needs.As their adventure unfolds, Dawson suffers a heart attack; the Sophia is rocked by a terrible storm; Julia discovers the stormy seas of romance with a young scientist; and she and Dawson ultimately reach a place of mutual understanding, affection and admiration. Against a backdrop of the high seas and exotic locales such as Alexandria, Zanzibar and Borneo, Julia learns much about the world -- and, most of all, discovers herself.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Julia MacLean takes the roaring twenties to heart. She quits her job for a Washington, D.C., newspaper and sets out on the adventure of a lifetime as the secretary to publishing millionaire Samuel Dawson (who is based on E. W. Scripps) as he embarks on a trip around the world on his yacht. Her traveling companions include Dawson, whom she and his nurse/companion Eunice call the OM (short for Old Man), his doctor, grandson, and a young boy. The OM is mercurial and difficult, and Julia initially regrets her decision, but she learns to accept him and her strange surroundings as the voyage takes her further away from her old life. The OM encourages her to write travel articles, and Julia seems eager for romance every time she encounters a likely candidate, but when she does finally meet a man who reciprocates her affection, she has trouble committing. McLaughlin's tale makes for an interesting imaginary travelogue populated with unusual characters. --Patty Engelmann

Publisher's Weekly Review

If Nancy Drew were a young reporter instead of a sleuth, she'd be a dead ringer for Julia MacLean, with her stylish clothes, chic bobbed haircut and intrepid spirit of adventure. McLaughlin's (Lightning in July) protagonist is a na‹ve, 22-year-old Southerner who accepts a position as personal secretary to Sam Dawson, a retired newspaper mogul setting out on a year-long trip on his yacht, the Sophia. The Old ManÄor OM, as he is calledÄis the proverbial tyrant with the heart of gold. His nurse/lover, Eunice Crampton, gives as good as she gets, but everyone elseÄthe OM's grandson Francis, the crew and the captainÄcowers before his tongue-lashing. As the OM dictates the novel he is writing, however, Julia begins to understand how the complicated, brilliant man is struggling to deal with his two oldest sons, whose theories of journalism are radically different from OM's. The patriarch's youngest son, Chris, has decided to live in Italy as an artist, and though OM hopes Julia can lure him back home, Chris has a not-so-surprising revelation regarding a young man named Derek. With opportunities to do so, Julia hones her writing by writing travel articles and taking pictures at the various ports of call, which she submits to an editor connected to OM. Her path keeps intersecting with that of a hunky young scientist, but romance and ambition prove difficult to juggle. On parallel maiden voyages, Julia and the Sophia both weather storms to emerge battered and worn, but triumphant. Inspired by her mother's trip around the world with E.W. Scripps in 1924-1925 and capturing the spirit of the times with her use of contemporary terms ("gay" takes on a humorous double meaning), McLaughlin's novel offers a pleasant diversion. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved