Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Wake of the Lorelei Lee: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, On Her Way to Botany Bay by L.A. Meyer

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ 
Obtained from: Local Library 
Read: Jan. 12, 2012 

Jacky Faber, rich from her exploits diving for Spanish gold, has purchased the Lorelei Lee to carry passengers across the Atlantic. Believing she has been absolved of past sins against the Crown, Jacky docks in London to take on her crew, but is instead arrested and sentenced to life in the newly formed penal colony in Australia. To add insult to injury, the Lorelei Lee is confiscated to carry Jacky and more than 200 female convicts to populate New South Wales. Not one to give in to self pity, Jacky rallies her sisters to "better" their position--resulting in wild escapades, brushes with danger, and much hilarity. Will Jacky find herself a founding mother of New South Wales, Australia? Not if she has anything to do about it!

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*** NOTE: This review contains spoilers. Please take heed and proceed at your own risk. 

The Lady Juliana in tow of the Pallas Frigate
I rarely do so but I fear the time has come to raise the white flag in surrender. After eight books I am thoroughly exasperated with Jacky Faber and company. Her adventures may hold the attention and imaginations of legions of others but I find myself compelled to admit defeat and make haste to the nearest life boat. The series has been floundering for some time and while Meyer tackled some more mature subject matter in The Wake of the Lorelei Lee I felt it was too little too late.

The book takes its premise from the voyage of the Lady Juliana (aka the Lady Julian), a ship that transported more than 200 female convicts to New South Wales in 1789. Mrs. Barnsley and little Mary Wade were both passengers on the vessel. The Chinese pirate Ching Shih is another historic figure. Now I love Meyer’s ability to weave history into his stories; these tidbits, down to the traditional songs, are my favorite aspects of his work. I love meeting these characters that would otherwise be forgotten to history. It is Meyer’s wayward heroine I have grown tired of.

The now sixteen year old Jacky is very much the same twelve year old we met in Bloody Jack. She has not grown or developed as I expected and I find her lack of maturity grates my nerves. She does not learn from her experiences or mistakes. She still acts impulsively and without much thought to the outcome of her actions. It doesn’t help that I find her to be a hypocritical snipe. She insists every female of her acquaintance strive for some semblance of respectability but applies no such standard to her own behavior. Her comments to Jaimy carry similar undertones as she continues to berate him for his single indiscretion while she is free to flirt and parade her bum in front of any man with a coin for her purse.

Jacky’s adventures have also stagnated. At the close of each book she has wormed her way out of trouble but within a few chapters of the next installment she is inexplicably ensnared in it once again. She is continually reuniting and being torn apart from Jaimy. Her enemies are remarkably similar and have started to run together. It doesn’t help that Jacky is universally more talented and intelligent than those around her… can someone please explain to me how a sixteen year old is more adept than every other sailor, performer, spy and soldier on the planet?

Each volume features such meager changes to cast, situation and local that I can't force myself to continue the series any longer, especially since Meyer is expected to release the tenth installment this fall. With no end in sight I feel I have no choice but to jump ship. Farewell Jacky, fair winds and following seas and long may your big jib draw.

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Ever the showgirl I dart over to the anchor, slap my rump down on it, slide my goggles up onto my forehead so I'll look more appealing, a ride up in grand style.
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