The Secret Life of James Cook by Graeme Lay (Fourth Estate, $36.99)
Reviewed by Judith Nathan
Graeme Lay’s novel covers the life of Captain James Cook until July 1771 when he returned to England from his first, three-year voyage to the Pacific. It is an easy and engaging read, soundly based on previous research.
For Cook’ s early life, the author has had a free hand as very little is known about the farm boy from a small inland Yorkshire village who moved to the port of Whitby and later joined the navy. Lay depicts a lad whose education was sponsored by his father’s employer (a recorded fact) who then recommended him as an apprentice to a grocer, partly on the strength of his mathematical abilities. Cook falls in love with the sea (and, unluckily, also with an ambitious servant girl), becoming apprenticed to a ship owner and then, at the advanced age of 26, leaving town to join the navy. Read more »