Pirate's Daughter

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Overview

In 1946, a storm-wrecked boat carrying Hollywood's most famous swashbuckler arrived dramatically and accidentally in Jamaica, and the glamorous world of 1940s Hollywood converged with that of a small West Indian society. After a long and storied career on the silver screen, Errol Flynn spent much of the last years of his life on a small island off of Jamaica, throwing parties and sleeping with increasingly younger girls. Based on those years, The Pirate's Daughter is the story of Ida, a local girl who has an ...
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Prince Frederick, MD 2008 audio cassette plastic box Unabridged Audio Book on Tape Near Fine in Very Good jacket Audio Cassette Ex-Library This unabridged audio book has 13 ... cassette tapes in near fine condition with a library's initials written on each tape. The plastic case is in very good condition with some stickers on it. This book is narrated by Robin Miles and lasts about 15.25 hours. Read more Show Less

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Overview

In 1946, a storm-wrecked boat carrying Hollywood's most famous swashbuckler arrived dramatically and accidentally in Jamaica, and the glamorous world of 1940s Hollywood converged with that of a small West Indian society. After a long and storied career on the silver screen, Errol Flynn spent much of the last years of his life on a small island off of Jamaica, throwing parties and sleeping with increasingly younger girls. Based on those years, The Pirate's Daughter is the story of Ida, a local girl who has an affair with Flynn that produces a daughter, May, who meets her father but once.

Spanning two gererations of women whose destinies become inextricably linked with the Holly wood star, The Pirate's Daughter tells the provocative history of a vanished era, of uncommon kinships, compelling attachments, betrayal, and atonement in a paradisal, tropical setting. May, the illegitimate daughter of Errol Flynn, belongs neither to the emerging black nation of Jamaica nor to the white, expatriate society on the island. Her mother, Ida, romantically adventurous, dreams of a bigger more glamorous world than that of her small seaside town. For them both, trying to find the right way to live their lives is about discovering who they are and where they truly belong.

As adept with Jamaican vernacular as she is at revealing the internal machinations of a fading and bloated matinee idol, in this culturally sensitive and delightful novel, Margaret Cezair-Thompson weaves a saga of a mother and daughter finding their way in a nation struggling to rise to the challenge of independence.
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Editorial Reviews

Amy Alexander
Cezair-Thompson, author of The True History of Paradise and a creative writing instructor at Wellesley College, brings a smart, lilting voice and a sharp, quirky perspective to a tried-and-true literary formula, the sweeping historical epic. By taking the classic question familiar to all storytellers—"What if?"—and marrying it to the classic advice of fiction-writing teachers—"Write what you know"—Cezair-Thompson unravels a surprising yarn that is rich, salty and ultimately satisfying…Beyond the Hollywood stardust that floats over the proceedings, it is Cezair-Thompson's deft evocation of the beauty and unpredictability of Jamaica, its topography and its people, that raises The Pirate's Daughter to a level far above the bodice-ripping historic epic.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Cezair-Thompson conjures the tragic glamour of golden age Hollywood against the backdrop of lusty, turbulent Jamaica in her dual generational coming-of-age saga. Ida Joseph is 13 years old when Errol Flynn is nearly shipwrecked off the coast of her hometown of Port Antonio in 1946. Flynn instantly loves Jamaica and, eager to find a refuge from stateside scandal, purchases an island across from the port. Navy Island becomes the setting for his glittering parties, movie projects and affair with Ida in her senior year of high school. Flynn refuses to take responsibility for the resulting child, May, and after trying to make a go of it in Jamaica, Ida leaves May and heads to New York City, where she marries a wealthy baron friend of Flynn's who purchases the island after Flynn dies. May grows to adulthood on Navy Island, develops something more than a crush on a married family friend 40 years her senior and indulges in drugs and free love. Jamaica's tumultuous progression toward self-governance-with the violent chaos it unleashes on Navy Island-reveals certain hidden truths about the baron. For all the high drama, the reader never feels fully privy to Ida or May, but Cezair-Thompson otherwise succeeds magnificently in evoking a world distant in both time and place. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

In the late 1940s, Errol Flynn established a home on Navy Island, off the coast of Jamaica. What little is known of this aspect of Flynn's life is the springboard for Cezair-Thompson's fictional account. Told from the perspective of Ida, the young island girl Flynn seduces, and May, the product of their affair, this sprawling story traces the evolution of Jamaica from a British colony through the violence and political upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s. The story is mesmerizing in the first half and loses focus in the second. Fatally flawed as Flynn is, some of the lifeblood of the story is sapped once he dies. The drawn-out conclusion involving the mysterious Austrian Baron Ida eventually marries fails to captivate, partly because the character is such a cipher. Nevertheless, many readers will be pulled into the depiction of the evolving and multiethnic Jamaican culture and the issues of identity the novel raises. Recommended for public libraries.
—Christine DeZelar-Tiedman

School Library Journal

Adult/High School
"This is a story that could only have taken place in the tropics, where the climate draws sea rovers, pirates, and desperadoes from all corners of the world." These are the first words of the novel that May Josephine Flynn, the pirate's daughter, writes, and they are true of Cezair-Thompson's novel as well. Set in the West Indies, it is a paean to Jamaica and her people. A fictional love story, the book is peppered with references to real people and events, set against a backdrop of the social and cultural upheaval of an emerging nation, pirate treasure, and old Hollywood excess. It spans 30 years in the lives of one family. Readers follow Ida Joseph, a girl barely in her teens, whose life is changed radically when Errol Flynn is shipwrecked off Jamaica. She falls in love with him and has his child, May. Ida's pining for Flynn shapes her life, but May's yearning is for family and her own rightful place in the world. This is a lush, lovely fairy tale filled with obvious love for the characters, history, and place, rendered in faultless prose and patois. The feel of this novel is of Gone with the Wind in Jamaica instead of the old South, full to the bursting with romantic adventure and epic scope.
—Dana Cobern-KullmanCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

From the Publisher

“Cezair-Thompson has spun a book-club-ready saga with two gorgeous women at its center--Ida, a light-skinned local girl who has a tryst with Flynn, and May, the daughter of that brief union. Flynn never acknowledges paternity, leaving Ida and May to forge a place for themselves in a land where they belong to neither the wealthy class of expatriates, nor the emerging black majority…[the book has] a knockout ending that reveals treasure buried beneath sand-encrusted secrets.”—People Magazine, Critic’s Choice

“With just enough swagger left in him to set island hearts aflutter, [Flynn] embarks on an affair with a young mixed-race girl coming of age, which, set against Jamaica’s own progression toward self-governance, makes for an unabashedly frangipani-scented—and wholly satisfying—armchair holiday of a read.”—Vogue

“The novel never stops for breath once…[it] just buzzes along, with years flying by between chapters, and dozens of characters entering and exiting, saying interesting things and doing outrageous ones. These characters range from aristocratic Europeans to desperately poor Jamaicans, and they are constantly pairing off in the most surprising ways.”—O Magazine

“[Cezair-Thompson] explores questions about identity and racism without being heavy-handed about it. She's best at juxtaposing Flynn's imported glamour with the realities of Jamaica and at suggesting there's more than one kind of buried treasure…The Pirate's Daughter offers plenty of serious passion and escape.”—USA Today

“Cezair-Thompson…brings a smart, lilting voice and a sharp, quirky perspective to a tried-and-true literary formula, the sweeping historical epic….Cezair-Thompson unravels a surprising yarn that is rich, salty and ultimately satisfying…[It’s her] deft evocation of the beauty and unpredictability of Jamaica, its topography and its people, that raises "The Pirate's Daughter" to a level far above the bodice-ripping historic epic.”
—The Washington Post

“Provides the kind of full-bodied yarn ideal for readers looking to be swept away.” —The Christian Science Monitor

"A ripe romantic novel…a mélange of family saga, love story, and political-historical fiction served up in a tropical setting."—The Boston Globe

“The Pirate's Daughter captures perfectly the essence of Jamaica, from the lilting patois spoken by its people to the lush beauty of its mountains and coves. If you have traveled there, you will certainly recognize the place, though this book will make you more intimate with its contradictions. Ms. Cezair-Thompson presents its racial and economic tensions, as well as its romance.”—The Dallas Morning News

“Cezair-Thompson makes use of a little-known bit of 20th-century popular history as a fulcrum to jimmy her way into the intricate themes of race, color, politics, fame and class in her native Jamaica…The Pirate's Daughter is the best kind of middle-brow fiction, neither pandering nor elitist, and not least of its charms is the desire to visit Jamaica that it will inspire in many of its readers.”—The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

"Cezair-Thompson promises her readers a "tropical adventure." She evokes spectacular shipwrecks and deserted islands, infamous buccaneers and glamorous celebrities. And the story that follows makes good on these promises. The novel fictionalizes an episode in the life of Errol Flynn, the scandal plagued, womanizing movie star whose sailboat capsized off the coast of Jamaica during a hurricane in 1946. Beginning with this very real drama, Cezair-Thompson tells the tale of two imagined women: a beautiful Jamaican teenager Flynn seduces during his time on the island and the daughter she bears him but whom he never cares to know.”—The New York Times Book Review

The Barnes & Noble Review
There's a bit of the buccaneer in Margaret Cezair-Thompson's approach to her second novel, The Pirate's Daughter. Setting her story against the steamy intersection of glamorous Hollywood and old-time Jamaica, she plunders history and pillages lives to tell an intricate tale of love and betrayal. The result is a glittering trove of fact, history, and fancy, which the author hands to her readers in a glorious, often untidy, heap.

The story opens with Ida Joseph, a beautiful 13-year-old girl who lives with her parents in Port Antonio, a rustic town at the foot of Jamaica's Blue Mountains. It's 1946, and the American movie star Errol Flynn has just wrecked his sailboat off the coast. Ida's father, Eli, is both justice of the peace and a taxi driver. When Flynn, taken with Jamaica's lush beauty, decides to buy a home there, Eli's just the fellow to drive him around and take care of the legal odds and ends.

Ida manages to tag along when Eli drives to town to pick up Flynn for one of his house-hunting expeditions. Within minutes of meeting the visitor, whom Jamaica's daily newspaper has anointed "The World's Handsomest Man," Ida sees both a charismatic matinee idol and an ordinary guy.

They waited in the hotel lounge for ten minutes before Errol Flynn came down. The hotel workers and few guests had already gotten used to him; no one gaped. There were glances, though, and everything seemed to slow down around him.

He was larger than Ida had imagined. Looking down at his sandals, she spotted hair on his toes.

With Ida's help, Flynn finds a deserted island that fits his fantasies of Jamaican life. He uses his fortune, earned in swashbuckling films, to build Bella Vista, a sprawling pink-and-white mansion surrounded by patios, pools, and gardens. It's there that he entertains Hollywood friends like Marilyn Monroe, Truman Capote, and Tony Curtis. And it's there that he starts an affair with 16-year-old Ida and gets her pregnant.

Frightened of another scandal, Flynn abandons Ida and flees. The resulting child, a girl named May, is left in the hands of strangers when Ida is forced to move to New York to try to earn a living. Years go by. When Ida, now married to a wealthy man, disembarks from the cruise ship that returns her to Jamaica, her daughter barely knows her.

At first May couldn't distinguish anyone who looked like the mother she had seen in the pictures. Then she made out a pretty woman in a white hat and a blue dress that clung to her figure like fish scales on a mermaid. Her white-gloved arm held on to a man who was much taller than she was. The woman saw her, raised her hand to her lips, cried out, and began waving.
The reunion proves difficult, as does the relationship between Ida and May. It plays out against the backdrop of modern Jamaican history -- the end of British colonial rule, the fight for independence, the ripple effect of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, the flawed and failed sovereign governments. It's this mix of fiction and history that gives the book much of its appeal.

Errol Flynn did, in fact, fall in love with Jamaica when his schooner, the Zaca, foundered in a hurricane just off the island's coast. He was 40 years old and fleeing the fallout of a trial for statutory rape, just one of the numerous sexual scandals that would mark his life. Flynn purchased Navy Island, a small spit of land visited two centuries earlier by the Bounty's notorious skipper, Captain Bligh.

This coincidence -- and a childhood fascination with pirates and seafaring adventures -- gave Cezair-Thompson the seeds for her story. But unlike authors who wrote about Jamaica and left out all reference to Jamaicans, Cezair-Thompson set out to tell a more authentic tale. She peoples her world with island characters, from wealthy Jamaican landowners with a caste system of their own to impoverished laborers eager for a share of the island's riches.

They pepper their speech with patois -- good manners is "broughtupsy"; someone who wishes you ill "puts da goat-mout' " on you. When speaking about an unmarried pregnant girl, a woman says, "you see how she bring belly into her house."

Jamaican music, political factions, Rastafarians, and the ganja trade find a place in the narrative. So do Flynn's adventures, like the moment when, bored or drunk or both, he drives his Cadillac into his swimming pool during a party. Ian Fleming appears as Nigel Fletcher (whose son is named Ian, in case you don't quite make the connection).

But setting the story against real-life events creates a strain. Cezair-Thompson struggles a bit to keep historic details as a backdrop while letting her story and characters take center stage. At times, rather than a dramatic arc in which actions beget emotional consequences, the story reverts to little more than a string of events.

From the moment she introduces Ida's wealthy husband, Karl, Cezair-Thompson hints at his dark secret. She teases it out over the course of the book. Is he gay? Was he a Nazi? Will he, in fact, find sunken treasure? The answer, when it finally emerges, is stunning. But rather than weave it into the narrative so the truth can resonate backward and forward and shake up the plot, it's revealed in a deathbed confession. There's nothing to do with it then, and it feels squandered.

But as May tells us in a prologue to the book, for some raconteurs, a tale doesn't come from them so much as come upon them. "Mouth open, story fly out." That's the case with Cezair-Thompson in The Pirate's Daughter. Story flew out, and it's a corker. --Veronique de Turenne

Veronique de Turenne is a Los Angeles-based journalist, essayist and playwright. Her literary criticism appears on NPR and in major American newspapers. One of the highlights of her career was interviewing Vin Scully in his broadcast booth at Dodger Stadium, then receiving a handwritten thank-you note from him a few days later.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781436114837
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 6/5/2008
  • Format: CD

Meet the Author

Margaret Cezair-Thompson was born in Jamaica, West Indies. She came to the United States at the age of nineteen to attend Barnard College, and then went on to earn a PhD in English from the City University of New York. She is the author of two novels and teaches literature and creative writing at Wellesley College.

Her first novel, The True History of Paradise (to be reprinted by Random House 2009), was short-listed for the Dublin International I.M.P.A.C. award. Her second novel, The Pirate’s Daughter, won the Essence Literary Award for Fiction in 2008. Other publications include short fiction, essays, and articles in Callaloo, The Washington Post, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Graham House Review, and Elle magazine. Her screenplay, Photo Finish, about a Jamaican-American athlete, was sold to Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions.

Although she has lived outside Jamaica for some time, Margaret Cezair-Thompson retains strong ties to her native country. Like the main characters of her novels, she was a child when Jamaica became an independent nation in 1962, and she has witnessed the country’s changes, at times with deep concern and always with great interest.

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Read an Excerpt

the Pirate's Daughter


By margaret cezair-thompson

UNBRIDLED BOOKS

Copyright © 2007 Margaret Cezair-Thompson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-932961-40-9


Chapter One

shipwrecked

If her father had not been a justice of the peace, Ida might never have come to know the movie star.

On a sunny morning in 1946, Ida Joseph stood outside her house in Port Antonio, leaning against her father's car. She was glad to be thirteen because it meant the end of childhood and the beginning of womanly responsibilities like picking out her own shoes. Her shoes that day were white and went well, she thought, with her pink-and-white dress. It was good to be outside after three days of rain. Looking around, she saw no sign of the bad weather. The ground was dry. The early sun revealed a patch of mountainside and warmed the car behind her.

The street she lived on, Plumbago Road, was in the hilly part of the town, foothills of the Blue Mountains. From where she stood she could see the sea. Any minute now the ship would appear on the horizon. It was Saturday and that meant she would drive down to the harbor with her father.

Eli Joseph wasn't paid for his services as a justice of the peace. He earned a living operating a small taxi business. There were two taxis: a hired man drove the old gray Morris, and Mr. Joseph drove the black Chrysler that Ida now leaned against. Most Saturdays she would go with him, first to the courthouse to see if anyone needed him to notarize documents. After that they made a few stops, maybe at the pharmacy or the Cricket Oval. Then they would drive to the harbor to pick up passengers.

When the United Fruit Company ships arrived, all the life of Port Antonio drew to the harbor. They were huge, sleek ships, part of the company's Great White Fleet, and they impressed Ida. Her father, who often went aboard, told her that above deck was "luxury, pure luxury," with air-conditioned lounges and spacious rooms for the American passengers. Below deck, the real business of the vessel took place: bananas-thousands of them, loaded into the refrigerated holds for the ship's return voyage to America. The loading of bananas always took place at night. During the daytime bustle of arriving and departing tourists, the banana workers were practically invisible. Instead, there would be cart men selling coconut water and souvenirs, straw weavers with jipijapa hats, calypso singers with maracas and guitars; the crazy man who called himself King George the Fifth would be there too, and taxi drivers would guide the passengers through the crowd.

"Ida!" she heard her mother calling from inside the house.

Ida turned to face the car window, where, after a quick approval of her reflection, she took in the beige seats of the Chrysler. It was a big car with room for four passengers in the back. One of the things she liked best about driving in the taxi was the way the foreigners smelled. She wasn't sure what it was exactly-it wasn't on them; it was around them and around their luggage as if they'd brought some of the foreign air with them.

It was unusual for a man like Eli Joseph-a white man and a Syrian-to drive a taxi. He was actually Lebanese, but in Jamaica they were all called Syrians: the Jews, Lebanese, Arabs, and actual Syrians who had come to Jamaica and made fortunes, all of them except Eli Joseph. A man of great ideas, he was often heard saying, "If I could just raise enough capital."

He was considered a "character," not so much by the people of Port Antonio as by his family in Kingston, the wealthy Joseph-Hanna clan who owned the beer and soda business. To the black people of Port Antonio, the fact that he was a Joseph, a white man, and a justice of the peace guaranteed him a certain amount of respect; that he played dominoes and drank rum with them earned him their affection.

"Ida! You don't hear me callin' an' callin'?"

Her mother, Esme, had come outside.

For a moment the mother and the daughter stood and eyed one another.

Esme was a stout black woman whose overweight body moved with surprising grace. She had small Chinese eyes and a saintly expression that concealed how strict a parent she was. Her daughter looked as if she belonged to a different race: fair-skinned with long black hair pulled back from her forehead with a tortoiseshell bandeau. Her dark eyebrows drew attention to large, expressive eyes. It was hard to describe her as anything but beautiful. But Esme, who did not want her to grow up vain and stupid, made little of her daughter's good looks.

"You out here idlin' while you father waitin' for the newspaper?"

Ida had forgotten that this was why she had come outside. She picked up the Daily Gleaner and walked up the paved path between the gate and the trellised veranda. There was a row of conch shells on either side of the path. Her grandmother, who had put them there, said conch shells protected homes from natural disasters. They were pretty. The little garden was pretty too but crowded; her mother worked hard to contain the lush flowers in the small space-bird-of-paradise, heliconia, bougainvillea, and tree-orchids-vibrant things that clawed, latched, and climbed if they were not constantly pruned.

Inside, the house smelled of buttered toast. It was a shining, clean house with furniture that was too large for the rooms.

Her mother looked at her and frowned. "Why you let out you hair? Go plait it," she said and went into the kitchen.

Ida's father was drinking his coffee and listening to the radio. He took the newspaper from her, not seeming the least bit annoyed about having waited. He was a slender, unmuscular man, with deeply tanned skin that sometimes led people to think he was Indian. Like his daughter, he had large, dark eyes, and he had long eyelashes that might have made him look effeminate if he hadn't had such a wide, square jaw.

He was still wearing just his undershirt, and Ida could see the gold Virgin Mary pendant he always wore.

"Eh-eh, Ida. Look here," he said, opening the paper. "Errol Flynn is in Jamaica."

She looked over his shoulder and saw a picture of a man with wavy hair and a sword. She read:

WORLD'S HANDSOMEST MAN IS HERE

Actor Errol Flynn Arrives in Jamaica Unexpectedly

"He's a big movie star," her father explained.

Ida had seen only one movie, Tarzan the Ape Man, when someone had donated a projector to Father Reynold's school down the road.

Eli called to Esme back in the kitchen, "You hear that, Esme? Errol Flynn in Jamaica!"

Flynn leaned against the railing of the hotel balcony, letting the sights and sounds of the tropical morning minister to him. The sun warmed his face and the green hills unrolled before him to a bright and tranquil sea.

He was almost forty and looked all right, he thought, in spite of the extra pounds around his waist. Yes, he looked all right but felt like a man who'd reached the end rather than the prime of his life. If only it worked like a sandglass-life, the accumulating years-now would be the time, he thought, to turn the whole thing upside down.

He'd made more than twenty films and was proud of only one, Gentleman Jim. His second marriage was doomed, just as his first had been. He had a son and two daughters he never saw; in fact, he had no idea where they were. And he'd been tried for rape! The statutory rape of two girls he swore he'd never even seen before they appeared in the courtroom. He'd been acquitted on all counts, but the long, highly publicized trial had dragged him through a stench that still lingered. How had he, Errol Leslie Thompson Flynn-son of the respected zoologist Professor Thompson Flynn-gotten himself so deep in the muck? He wouldn't have known what to do with himself if it hadn't been for the Zaca, his schooner. Its name was a Samoan word for "peace."

In an earlier century he would have been an explorer, he thought, like Magellan. Maybe a poet too. He'd always loved the sea, dreamed of a life at sea, and often felt nostalgic about his childhood on Tasmania's coast (darting in and out of the marine lab where his father had studied the platypus-an animal without a scrotum!).

A month after the trial, he'd set sail with his man Ramon, a first-class Mexican sailor, steering the Zaca through the Panama Canal, heading for Haiti.

At night watch he'd lain on his back on deck, looking at the stars, feeling like a weightless speck on the planet, or a kind of deviant Ulysses willing to sail anywhere but home. His house on Mulholland Drive was about as appealing to him as a pile of unread newspapers. Good Lord, anywhere but home.

One night during his watch the air grew unusually still. The next day the sky turned red like a puffy wound. The barometer fell. The radio signals went. Then the hurricane winds hit suddenly, unlike anything he'd ever seen or heard, ripping the storm sail. They'd put out the heavy anchors but even then the boat had skittered across the water. Then the galley put out, washing away all their supplies, their maps and passports.

There'd been hours when he hadn't been able to distinguish between the elements-black sky, black water. Strangely, the thought of death hadn't crossed his mind. Death wasn't action, and this was action: straining muscles and nerves. It had revived him. Yes, it had taken a hurricane to lift him out of his middle-aged slump.

The storm passed quickly, but for two days they'd drifted in a shark-filled sea with no radio, no supplies, and no idea where they were.

Then he saw a body of land in the distance, a hazy outline of mountains against the sky. They drifted toward it, almost running aground at a small desert island along the way. It was another hour before the current pushed them close enough for him to make out a harbor town nestled below the most serene mountains he'd ever seen.

As he got closer, he grew puzzled. He knew he'd never been to the place before, but there was something familiar about it, especially the stone fort at the edge of the water with its black cannons pointing to sea.

There were some boys sitting along the fort's wall watching the Zaca drift in.

"What is this country?" Flynn shouted across to them.

"Jamaica."

He laughed. Jamaica!

"Onward to Jamaica and to victory!" had been his battle cry on the set of Captain Blood. His first leading role, it had made him a star. Of course, the whole thing had been filmed at the studio, not on location, but hadn't he defeated a Spanish fleet here-not once but twice-and saved the island? And won Olivia de Havilland's admiration to boot?

Some fishermen towed the boat in. They seemed unfriendly, and particularly suspicious of Ramon, whom they mistook to be Cuban. "Cubana? Turtle? Tortuga?" they kept asking Ramon, who looked at them, baffled.

Flynn saw a sign that said, "Welcome to Port Antonio." A coastguard officer led them to a small wooden office that looked like an army barrack. Like the fishermen, he seemed agitated by Ramon's presence. Later Flynn learned that there'd been trouble with Cuban fishermen stealing sea turtles from Jamaican waters.

The coastguard officer telephoned his superior: "I have a Cuban here, sir, and he's with an American named Earl Flint. What should I do, sir?"

Flynn found a scrap of paper and wrote out his correct name, and the man spelled it out over the phone. "Awright, sir, yes."

Flynn looked around. The boys who had been sitting on the seawall had gathered outside and were peeking in the doorway. No one seemed to know who he was. For a moment he had an odd feeling, like a man suddenly aware of himself dying, that something real and unfilmable was happening to him.

"Police car comin' to take you to Kingston," the coastguard officer said.

Flynn asked if he and Ramon could have something to eat, and they were taken to a cart man selling food and soft drinks along the pier.

And it was there, out on the pier, that he was recognized by the Indian ladies selling bangles and khus-khus perfume. The usually demure sariclad ladies became agitated. One of them ran down the pier shouting, "Errol Flynn ... oh, God!"

Soon there was a small crowd around him-tourists and Jamaicans, including the previously distrustful fishermen. The harbor's infirmary nurse appeared because in the commotion someone either fainted or fell. The coastguard officer was overwhelmed as the crowd started getting bigger. Finally the police jeep arrived; Flynn and Ramon were given raisin buns and sodas and taken to Kingston.

The evening Star reported:

FLYNN'S FANS FAINT

Women Fall Unconscious at Movie Star's Feet

It was not the sari-clad ladies who had fainted, and actually, the report was wrong: only one woman fainted, an English tourist buying straw baskets. She looked up when she heard the commotion and saw him-disheveled, unshaven, but unmistakably her matinee idol. ("Chu!" Esme said when Eli read this out loud, "it was probably the heat why she fainted." "No man, is how the women go on when they see him," Eli said.) After this report in the Star, fainting became epidemic among the young women of the island whenever they glimpsed Errol Flynn, or thought they had. Some pretended to faint so they could say they had seen him.

Ida and her father visited the harbor to look at Errol Flynn's wrecked boat.

"If his boat is here, he must come back for it sooner or later," Eli said.

A policeman was guarding the Zaca. He seemed disgruntled, and Ida could see why. He'd enjoyed some fame after appearing in a newspaper picture guarding Flynn's damaged boat from onlookers. Now, a week later, people had lost interest in the wreck, and he had nothing to do but sit all day, waving away flies.

All the attention had turned to Kingston, where Flynn was being royally entertained and courted by the country's richest families. He stayed in their mansions. The British High Commissioner had a dinner in his honor. He had numerous invitations and met with all kinds of Jamaicans-radio-show hosts, the Jamaica Nurses Association. People sent him baskets of tropical fruit, rum, and native artwork. The admiration was not one-sided. Flynn told reporters, "Jamaica's more beautiful than any woman I've ever known."

A wealthy Jamaican named Aaron Levy invited him to stay at his beach hotel in Ocho Rios. As Flynn was being driven across the island to Levy's hotel, he was aware of a lightheartedness he hadn't felt in ages. Jamaica reminded him of the most enjoyable years of his life, the carefree, spirited years he'd spent in the South Seas before he'd become an actor. It occurred to him as he drove through the mountains, looking out on a landscape so rampantly green that the soil never showed, that he could be happy again. Here was everything he wanted: warm climate, wonderful food, deep-sea diving, sailing, peaceful countryside-and the people spoke English. He'd spend four or five months of the year here. It would restore him.

"This must be the Paradise written about in the Bible," he said on a local radio show.

These words of appreciation delighted everyone and were quoted in local newspapers, living rooms, and tenement yards. "Flynn Fever" broke out, as one newspaper put it. FLYNN FANS FRACAS, another headline stated, describing the disorder that broke out at a cinema during a showing of Objective Burma when members of the audience thought they saw Errol Flynn sitting among them The article was written by the same reporter who had devised the erroneous headline FLYNN'S FANS FAINT. Another of his headlines, in fact his last on the subject, was:

FLYNN FAN FALLS DEAD

An elderly female died of an apparent heart-attack as she walked out of the Cross Roads post office around 2 p.m. yesterday. Bystanders claim that they saw a vehicle with someone who looked like Errol Flynn going by. The Chief-of-Police issued a statement saying: "There seems to be no relation between the two incidents."

But there was still the problem of Flynn's passport having been lost at sea. Ramon, who had gone ahead to America, had experienced trouble getting back into the country without identification. The World's Handsomest Man actually had no proof that he was Errol Flynn. His wife in California sent him the only identification she could dig up, a copy of their marriage certificate. But since it was only a copy, he needed to have it notarized.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from the Pirate's Daughter by margaret cezair-thompson Copyright © 2007 by Margaret Cezair-Thompson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Author's Note....................ix
Map of the Island....................xv
Pages from May's book, circa 1961....................xvii
PROLOGUE The Island That Was Errol Flynn's....................1
I "Of his early life and motive for turning pirate we are as yet ignorant ..."....................7
1 Shipwrecked....................9
2 Day Trip....................18
3 "They're Bangles, Mr. Flynn"....................34
4 Karl Von Ausberg Appears....................39
5 A Deserted Island....................49
6 A Gift and a Mother's Concern....................55
7 "Commander" Nigel Fletcher....................63
8 A Marriage and a Death....................71
9 Seduction....................78
10 Catastrophe at Sea....................88
11 Karl Intrudes....................95
II "With a savage smile, he repeated his assurances that I had nothing to fear...."....................105
12 "I'm Writing to You Because ..."....................107
13 Eli Joseph's Journey....................114
14 Ensnared....................118
15 Shoes for May....................132
16 Ida's Decision: The Niagara....................141
III "I shall now proceed to furnish you with details ..."....................147
17 A New Country and an Unlikely Courtship....................149
IV "After taking view of my condition, which was very gloomy, I began to suspect that I had been left on this desolate island to perish ..."....................169
18 Castaway....................171
19 Errol Flynn Wakes up from a Bad Dream....................186
20 Across the Water....................195
21 Errol, upto His Old Tricks....................201
22 Treasure Cove....................221
23 A Flag on Her Island....................235
V "He was surprised and pleased, supposing that now he would have a mistress to himself; but he was greatly mistaken and found that it was necessary to court her for his wife ..."....................253
24 "Bastard-That Is Not a Nice Word"....................255
25 Nigel and the Eleventh Jack Blaze Novel....................274
26 Switzerland....................298
VI "I was persuaded to take passage to Jamaica ..."....................309
27 From Kingston to Jamaica....................311
28 The Republic of Ida....................325
29 Karl's Shipwrecks....................338
30 Besieged....................350
31 Her Father's Map....................357
32 Òpere et Omissiòne....................376
33 Mongoose or Girl?....................385
34 Treasure....................389
EPILOGUE Par Avion....................391
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Reading Group Guide

1. Why does Oni, Ida’s grandmother, always ask Ida if she’s a mongoose or a girl? What is she? What does Oni mean when she says “Sometimes bird hafe learn how fe swim”? How does this saying apply to Ida? To May?

2. What kind of father is Eli Joseph? How does he support Ida? How does he fail her?

3. Why does Ida defy her mother and traditional Jamaica? What does Errol Flynn represent for her?

4. On page 200, Ida wonders if her only choices were “to be a sorry unwed mother or the well-cared-for wife of a man whom she admired but didn’t love.” Do you think she’s right? What were Esme’s choices?

5. What makes May feel like a stranger in her own community and country?

6. How is the racism Ida sees in New York different from that in Jamaica? What accounts for these differences?

7. Why does May resist when Ida tries to tell her about her father, Errol Flynn?

8. How does May’s single meeting with Errol Flynn affect her? How does it affect him? During this meeting, Flynn thinks of all the things he wanted to tell her. Later, when he waits for Ida at the wrong hotel bar, he wishes he could tell Ida several things. What do you think he wants to tell his daughter and her mother?

9. Though Errol Flynn is May’s biological father, many other men are more fatherly towards May. What characters in The Pirate’s Daughter help May come of age?

10. How can May love the land of Jamaica, but not the nation, as she asserts in her letter to Nigel on page 205? How does the landscape of Jamaica energize and empower her? How does the nation affect her?

11. What went wrong with Ian? Why is he with the gunmen when they attack Navy Island? Do you agree with May that their parents’ generation is to blame for the problems of the younger generation? Why or why not?

12. Why does Karl hide Errol’s treasure map from May? And on page 372, why does Karl emphasize that he stole what should have been May’s? What does he think he stole, other than a monetary inheritance?

13. How does Jamaica manifest as more than a setting? How does Cezair-Thompson present Jamaica as a character?

14. How does May’s Treasure Cove tell the story of her family and her country? What are the implications of the untitled manuscript she sends to Nigel?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Read this charming family saga!!

    In 1946, one of Hollywood's legendary screen idols, Errol Flynn, built a lavish home on Navy Island, off the coast of Jamaica. In this island paradise, he entertained a host of glamorous Hollywood celebrities and distinguished authors. Here he found a safe haven for the final years of his life. Around this true fact, Jamaican author Margaret Cezair-Thompson has brilliantly created a mesmerizing fictional tale. It tells the story of teenage Ida, a mixed race local beauty, whose brief affair with Flynn results in pregnancy. He hastily flees, leaving Ida penniless. She valiantly strives to raise her daughter, May. While working in New York to earn money for her father's and daughter's care, the tale subtly moves from the story of Ida to the story of May. Meanwhile, Jamaica enters a period of great political unrest, with class and race tensions. Its violent struggle for independence is seen through the eyes of May, as she struggles to find a sense of belonging.Ms. Cezair-Thompson has beautifully created a truly intriguing storyline with a cast of captivating characters. Actual historic events have been skillfully woven into their lives. Her magnificent writing evokes all the beauty and essence of this tropical paradise and magically brings Jamaica to life. Her lovely and vivid descriptions are utterly breathtaking. In addition, I learned much about the island's fascinating history, culture and its people. I feel completely enchanted by this alluring tropical island! I absolutely loved this engaging, imaginative book and I strongly recommend it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2011

    A great read to learn a bit about Jamaica 'man'

    I thought this book was a great way to get a bit of history about Jamaica. I like the fact that they author through in Errol Flynn to add an interesting twist to the story line. I could see how a young girl (especially from another country) could be so interested in a movie start, even though he obviously isn't perfect. I love the twist at the end where we realize a couple of the characters aren't who we thought they were.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 26, 2009

    Read this charming family saga!!

    In 1946, one of Hollywood's legendary screen idols, Errol Flynn, built a lavish home on Navy Island, off the coast of Jamaica. In this island paradise, he entertained a host of glamorous Hollywood celebrities and distinguished authors. Here he found a safe haven for the final years of his life. Around this true fact, Jamaican author Margaret Cezair-Thompson has brilliantly created a mesmerizing fictional tale. It tells the story of teenage Ida, a mixed race local beauty, whose brief affair with Flynn results in pregnancy. He hastily flees, leaving Ida penniless. She valiantly strives to raise her daughter, May. While working in New York to earn money for her father's and daughter's care, the tale subtly moves from the story of Ida to the story of May. Meanwhile, Jamaica enters a period of great political unrest, with class and race tensions. Its violent struggle for independence is seen through the eyes of May, as she struggles to find a sense of belonging.

    Ms. Cezair-Thompson has beautifully created a truly intriguing storyline with a cast of captivating characters. Actual historic events have been skillfully woven into their lives. Her magnificent writing evokes all the beauty and essence of this tropical paradise and magically brings Jamaica to life. Her lovely and vivid descriptions are utterly breathtaking. In addition, I learned much about the island's fascinating history, culture and its people. I feel completely enchanted by this alluring tropical island! I absolutely loved this engaging, imaginative book and I strongly recommend it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2008

    Just okay

    The plot intrigued me--a book based on the life of Errol Flynn's daughter? Cool! But I lost my enthusiasm as the story developed. Not only is Errol Flynn barely present in this book, but half of the story is about the girl's mother. I felt misled. Plus, no one in the story ever seems to be happy, and I mean no one. It turned into a downer and I only kept reading because I've been waiting to read it for so long.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A reviewer

    In 1946, Errol Flynn was sailing the Caribbean when a storm forced his boat to land on one of the smaller Jamaican islands. The former movie swashbuckling superstar enjoys his stop and begins throwing wild parties for his Hollywood guests with natives attending to provide extra activity.----------------- The actor spends plenty time alone with young local girls like Ida. His tryst with Ida leads to her giving birth to May. Father and illegitimate daughter meet once, but that encounter accentuates May¿s feeling of not belonging whereas her mother dreams of belonging to high society preferably in Southern California but Jamaica will do, May feels like an outsider who does not belong to the black or white societies.------------- This fascinating historical tale provides the audience with an interesting look at the impact of the Hollywood invasion on the lifestyles of Jamaicans just after WW II. Readers will appreciate the up close look at Jamaica while also feel a sense of sadness as former matinee idol Errol Flynn, who could have had almost any woman at one time, finds his last hurrah is with young girls while his daughter and her mother tragically fall in and out of love. Melancholy yet nostalgic, Margaret Cezair-Thompson's well written tale is a fresh mid twentieth century drama.---------- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2007

    Visit Jamaica From Home

    Glamorous Hollywood and small town island life clash in this moving debut by Margaret Cezair-Thompson. Full of Jamaican lore and history, the novel has an easy, flowing tone that pulls you in and holds you in its grasp long after the last page. Errol Flynn provides a glimpse into the Hollywood stars of days gone by, but the real stars are the many central women characters. Watching Ida grow up and fall in love, and then again with her daughter May, carries a tragic, sad hope of better things awaiting them just around the corner. For a time and place that does not otherwise get a lot of attention, Cezair-Thompson's novel is a welcomed change.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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