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Rough Passage to London: A Sea…

Rough Passage to London: A Sea Captain's Tale, A Novel

by Robin Lloyd

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3.5 Stars ( )
  Melissa_J | Jan 16, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Historical fiction based on Elisha Ely Morgan who commanded packet ships sailing between America and England in the 1800s.

An ok nautical read which seemed to jump around too quickly to really care what was going on. It was too annoying to get interested in the actions then have history leap forward five years and the thread dropped. Characters were sterotypical 'evil British' or acted in a manner which seemed very unlikely and continuously took me out of the narrative. This is not a book I would readily recommend to anyone unless they had specific interest in the captain himself. ( )
  taisiia | Feb 2, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book, based on a true story, relates the tale of Elisha Ely Morgan, who began his life as a young farm boy and eventually became a very successful sea captain during the 1800s. As a young boy he wanted to leave the farm and venture out onto the sea, but it was finally the mysterious disappearance of one of his beloved older brothers (in conjunction with an increasingly difficult relationship with his father) that encouraged him out onto the open ocean. Once there, he quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a captain of his own ship in his early twenties, and expanding his stock and leadership role in the ship's firm soon after.

What initially began as a story of his life on the seas attempting to find his brother transformed into an intricately woven tale about Ely's many adventures, from his time on the lowest rung of a ship, to his advent as captain, to the meeting of his wife and his many well-known friends, to the birth of his children.

This book was amazingly interesting to read. I've read novelizations of people's lives before, but this was particularly enthralling because I had never heard of the protagonist before; every twist and turn was brand new information to me.

That being said, I wish that I had known a bit more about the mechanics of a boat, specifically the large sailboats that were used for these purposes in the 1800s. Sometimes I felt a little lost by the technical jargon. Other than that, I really enjoyed the book, especially the ending. Likewise, the author's note was incredibly thorough and thoughtful, which I appreciated as a history nerd. The author is actually a descendant of the protagonist in the book, so he related in the Author's Note how he went about searching and the importance of the research to himself.

While I was riveted by the story, I was often taken out of it by some pretty intense dangling modifier problems ( )
  jordan.lusink | Jan 19, 2014 |
A fun fictionalized account pulling together various threads of the documented history of Mr. Lloyd's illustrious ancestor, Capt. Elisha Morgan. I found it interesting to see how a life could span from the late days of the revolution and the 2d War of Independence up into the Civil War. Mr. Lloyd does an excellent job of adding color and real life to the changes that to this modern set of eyes seem less dramatic than they must have to those living through them. One of the more interesting bits, was the exploration of the dynamic between the UK and the US and how that shifted over time.

(2014 Review #2)
  bohannon | Jan 18, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a first novel by Robin Lloyd, an author who has thus far made his career in journalism. Reading this novel, I find it very evident that this author's talent lies in nonfiction: summary passages are clear and strong, while anything pertaining to description, particularly of emotions, falls flat. This leads to characters that feel like cliches: maybe not as archetypes, but the way they behave and are described is in no way interesting or unique. Their reactions in particular feel stiff, like the description of characters in a low budget TV drama rather than real people.
The protagonist, while certainly an interesting character in his time and to the people who met him in real life, lacks much real characterization. There is almost no sense of his private life, which isn't helped by the book's spread out pacing. His emotions are almost always exactly what one would expect, making description tedious, or nothing deeper than the surface. He also has these awkward introspective flashback moments in the middle of the action that are not only unrealistic and presumably dangerous to the character, but take the reader out of an interesting scene and into one they've already read about. I think the author may have been reluctant to characterize Ely Morgan, maybe because he was inexperienced in the art, or maybe because he didn't want to misrepresent his ancestor in any way.
This novel is written largely in the passive voice, meaning the reader is being told about the action instead of experiencing it. The author likes to cut away "dramatically" at the end of a chapter before anything is resolved and then skip a few years into the future, in which the protagonist is conveniently remembering that same event and relives the whole thing for us, but in the passive voice. Believe me, this gets old fast. Related to this is the way the author shies away from specificity. A lot of things are brushed over for unknown reasons or deliberately left unsaid: another trope which gets tiresome.
This book is supposedly about solving a mystery, but the mystery is often forgotten about entirely for the sake of less interesting developments in Morgan's social world. You can tell the author is trying to keep the reader guessing, but there is very little to guess at the whole way through. Events tend to be predictable and even when they're not they are either heavily foreshadowed to the point where any "grand reveal" is comparatively disappointing.
Overall this novel felt like a transcript of a movie based on a much longer and more interesting book, perhaps the one the author would have written had he chosen to stick with his strengths and write a true nonfictional history. ( )
  samlives2 | Dec 20, 2013 |
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For Marisa and Samantha Lloyd, great-great-great-great-granddaughters of Elisha Ely Morgan
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This is a novel about the seafaring life of Elisha Ely Morgan.
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Lyme, Connecticut, early nineteenth century. Elisha Ely Morgan is a young farm boy who has witnessed firsthand the terror of the War of 1812. Troubled by a tumultuous home life ruled by the fists of their tempestuous father, Ely's two older brothers have both left their pastoral boyhoods to seek manhood through sailing. One afternoon, the Morgan family receives a letter with the news that one brother is lost at sea; the other is believed to be dead. Scrimping as much savings as a farm boy can muster, Ely spends nearly every penny he has to become a sailor on a square-rigged ship, on a route from New York to London, a route he hopes will lead to his vanished brother, Abraham. Learning the brutal trade of a sailor, Ely takes quickly to sea-life, but his focus lies with finding Abraham. Following a series of cryptic clues regarding his brother's fate, Ely becomes entrenched in a mystery deeper than he can imagine. As he feels himself drawing closer to an answer, Ely climbs the ranks to become a captain, experiences romance, faces a mutiny, meets Queen Victoria, and befriends historical legends such as Charles Dickens in his raucous quest.… (more)

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