- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Posted August 28, 2014
I received a free copy of East India from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for a honest review. When I accepted this book, I was not familiar with the author. And while I hoped the book would be good, I did not expect the story to be so fascinating. From page one, this historical fiction romance novel begins at an excavation in the present day with the mystery of one man's bones.
The story then plummets into the past aboard the Utrecht in 1628. Here we meet Cornelia Noorstrandt, an unhappily wedded woman traveling on a ship that's mostly full of men watching her in every way that's improper. Commandeur Ambroise Secor, a sergeant of the VOC, comes to her rescue in keeping the others at bay only to find himself attracted to Cornelia, a woman he can never have. And Michiel Van Texel is in the same boat as he is just happy to catch a glimpse of the lovely lady.
Many men aboard the packed ship take an interest in Cornelia but find her status too lofty for their liking. One such man is the skipper who thinks she is too high and mighty, and even Cornelia's maid, Sara, plays treacherously behind her back. While the undermerchant, Christiaan van Sant, watches everything unfold with a smirk on his lips and a twisted bit of information for anyone who listens as the ship travels from Holland to the Indies.
Deception, treachery, jealousy, and hate erupts and then tragedy unfolds as the great ship the Utrecht crashes on the rocks, leaving those who survive to fight to stay alive amid rape and murder. Unfortunately, many suffer and lose their lives as Christiaan becomes a madman twisted with power. I love the way the story progresses and reveals the growth and even misfortune of such characters. Especially Cornelia and Michiel who were two people that otherwise would never cross paths socially or romantically yet have a chance to in the face of extraordinary circumstances.
This story moves along at a good pace, and the writing style is impressive as the text flows smoothly in describing such a vivid tale. Even though the book is told from multiple points of view, several characters even within some chapters, the story is never garbled or lost in translation. Each speaker has their own distinctive voice and it's easy to recognize each character's thoughts, words, and know the reasons for their actions, no matter how kindhearted or devilish they might be.
Most of all, I enjoyed the conversations between characters. All of their speech feels so life-like and real for the time period that I forgot I was reading a novel instead of being right in the midst of a rocky ship or stranded with the survivors. Overall, the story's ending is a bit sad, but I am still as satisfied from this read. I will definitely look forward to future books from Falconer.
Posted August 4, 2014
I’ve never read Collin Falconer before so I had no idea what to expect! Wow! This was an unexpected adventure with twists and turns.
On its maiden voyage from Holland to Batavia, the East India Company sends Utrecht on a five month journey. Cornelia Noorstrandt is one of the passengers on the ship. She is on her way to meet her husband that is already in Batavia. It’s obvious from the first couple of pages that she is not madly in love with her husband. Since she is the only person on the ship that is of “upper class” she often finds herself very lonely. Cornelia, although wealthy now, came from humble beginnings.
Other noteworthy characters are Ambroise Secor who is the captain of the ship and who develops a friendship with Cornelia. Jacob Schellinger and Christian van Sant are second in command. Then, my favorite, Michael van Texel. Michael is a soldier on his way to Batavia also. He does not share the same ranks as the before mentioned but plays a very pivotal role in the story. Although he is not of the same ranking as the captain or Cornelia he does share conversations with her and often seeks her out.
While on the ship, life is very rough and I thought that the author really portrayed the discomfort and limited provisions that were available. The maggot covered meat made my stomach turn but made the uneasy feeling of life on the ship more credible.
Cornelia is a wealthy lady but life on the ship is not safe for her and she suffers from a horrible “occurrence.” The divisions of the social classes are evident aboard the ship and atrocities happen even in the middle of the sea.
Although life on the ship is horrible, when they become “lost” life becomes hell for everyone. The turn of events was so quick and so much happened I had to take a breath!
The story quickly becomes a “Lord of the Flies” as everyone aboard the Utrecht is shipwrecked (Everyone that survived that is) they start to fight for survival. This fight for survival turns to deprivation for some of these characters. The cruelty and viciousness of some of the characters was shocking.
Although there are many different parts of the story, my favorite was Michael and Cornelia. Both of them were such valiant, kind and genuinely good people in the middle of what at times was hell. I couldn’t put this book down and there are scenes that are imprinted in my brain. Falconer is a fantastic storyteller. He pushed so many boundaries and shocked me! Although a very intense book I really enjoyed it. His clever lines took away some of the tension from the story, “he’d rather lick arse than eat cheese” made me laugh. My all time favorite “ even if God forsakes you, I will find you.” Amazing!
Posted July 19, 2014
In the novel, EAST INDIA, internationally bestselling author, Colin Falconer, has written a fictionalized accounting of a terrible tale of depravity and barbarity that is known the world over – that of the shipwreck Batavia in 1629 that became one of the most incredible stories of shipwreck ever recorded and one of the bloodiest chapters in Australia's history.
The plight of the women is especially tragic and horrendous.
Some survivors of the shipwreck made it to some tiny islands that lacked water and food and they suffered dehydration, starvation, and heat illness. Others remained on the ship and were either washed off deck, drowned when the ship collapsed, or failed trying to swim to the islands. 48 people packed into a longboat set off to make a 2000 journey to Batavia to get help. For the people left on the islands, they would face bloodshed, rape, and murder at the hand of the madman and his group of henchmen who seized control. The group began to systematically reduce the survivors to preserve food and water. First, they exiled groups of people to various nearby islands without sufficient food or water, hoping they would perish. When that failed, the group of murderers began drowning people in the ocean. One group of people on one of the islands who had survived on seals, seal’s blood, and urine, became the victims of a secret slaughter by these henchmen. Soon the murders were no longer conducted in secret. One boy was beheaded for sport, and the women were herded into a tent and used as sex slaves.
With his usual style of sharp, succinct writing, Colin Falconer captured the facts of this dreadful drama, skilfully mixed it with a little fiction, and created a powerfully passionate novel that shocked me and held me in its grip! In fact, I read the entire book in one sitting, unable to stop reading. The plight of the survivors at the hands of a few controlling madmen is one that I will not soon forget, and Falconer tells it like it is with blunt honesty and intense narrative.
I have long been a fan and follower of Colin Falconer. I found this novel as spell-binding, expertly written, and compelling as all his others. His tales offer something of interest to both men and women. With poignant characterization, dazzling dialogue, and impeccable research, there is something for everyone that will please. I can’t say enough about this book. Although it is a dark tale, there is a bit of a love story within that lends the tale some closure so the reader is left with a feeling of satisfaction! Nothing short of brilliant, Colin! Can’t wait for your next book on Cleopatra!