The Golden Ocean cover

The Golden Ocean


The Golden Ocean is a historical novel written by Patrick O'Brian, first published in 1956. It tells the story of a novice midshipman, Peter Palafox, who joins George Anson's voyage around the world beginning in 1740. The story is written much in the language and spelling of the mid-18th century. Palafox is a Protestant Irish boy from the west coast of Ireland, schooled by his father, a churchman, and eager to join the Royal Navy. He learns naval discipline and how to determine his ship's position at sea as part of a large berth of midshipmen on HMS Centurion. His friend Sean O'Mara joins with him, considered his servant initially by officers and put among the seamen, rising in rank as he shows his abilities, to bosun's mate. The book contains a wealth of period detail, and includes historical figures, like Anson, the midshipman Keppel, Mr Walter, the chaplain to Anson and kind guide and keeper of the purse for Peter Palafox, and captains of other vessels in the squadron. Reviews in 1994 found it not a mature work from the author, but showing signs of "the Conradian force that shows where O'Brian was headed as a narrative writer." Another reviewer felt this novel showed nearly "all the naval lore and sense of place that grace the Aubrey/Maturin books". It was aimed at younger readers, but two reviewers felt that all readers "will be swept up by the richness of O'Brian's prodigious imagination", and it was "A humorous adventure for all collections."
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original title: The Golden Ocean
date of publication: 1956
genre: novel
followed by: The Unknown Shore

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