In 1946, a storm-wrecked boat carrying Hollywood’s most famous swashbuckler shored up on the coast of Jamaica, and the glamorous world of 1940’s 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 teenaged 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 generations of women whose destinies become inextricably linked with the matinee idol’s, this lively novel tells the provocative history of a vanished era, of uncommon kinships, compelling attachments, betrayal and atonement in a paradisal, tropical setting. As adept with Jamaican vernacular as she is at revealing the internal machinations of a fading and bloated matinee idol, 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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the Pirate's Daughter
By margaret cezair-thompson
UNBRIDLED BOOKSCopyright © 2007 Margaret Cezair-Thompson
All right reserved.
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.
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.
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.
Table of Contents
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
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
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
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
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
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
31 Her Father's Map....................357
32 Òpere et Omissiòne....................376
33 Mongoose or Girl?....................385
EPILOGUE Par Avion....................391
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?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40-year old Errol Flynn and his disabled ship drift into a Jamaican port, beginning a residency in Jamaica. A young daughter of a justice of the peace and his common-law wife falls in love with him and has a daughter, May.The Pirate's Daughter would be a romance if not for its tone: there are movie stars, illegitimacy, class and color. The description even says "star-crossed loves." But the mother and daughter are so un-melodramatic that the story is pedestrian. I actually found the independence of Jamaica section a little boring. Which is the point, I think — through personal and political turmoil, even after loss and grief, people live on.
The Pirate's Daughter is a fairly long novel, clocking in at nearly 400 pages, but by the end you're wishing for even more. Within the pages lie romance, intrigue, mystery, loss and redemption. The novel is deeper than what the jacket description would lead one to believe. More than the story of a love affair between Errol Flynn and a young girl, which results in the birth of a daughter, it is a tale rich with themes of identity and belonging, set against the backdrop of a changing Jamaica as it gains independence and conflicts between Jamaicans increase. There are tender moments and tense moments, and all of them are riveting. The writing is beautiful and descriptive, carrying the reader away to this tropical island. The characters are so well-developed that it's easy to become absorbed in what happens to them. All in all this was quite an addicting novel by a very talented writer; highly recommended.
Errol Flynn, his mistress, his illegitimate daughter and Jamaica.It¿s gotten a lot of great reviews, but I didn¿t care much for it. It seems to be the synopsis for a novel, the outline, the summary. A good first draft. There is much missing that is needed to make it enjoyable to read. The prose stumbles, the omniscient viewpoint confuses. And it is overly long at almost 400 pages.
I have just finished reading this book which was sent to me for review by Unbridled books. When I started I thought it was going to be a bit dreamy but the story cuts in quickly and and keeps you interested and entertained to the last page. The novel is a fascinating tale of the lives of two women, mother and daughter, with the backdrop of Jamaica in the 50's through through the 70,s . There is poverty and violence culminating in the violence in the mid 70's of Jamaica's struggle for independence. Yes , Errol Flynn is there but the book isn't really about him other than his role as father to the daughter. He seduces her teenage mother Ida and the daughter , May , is born. Ida is on her own, other than her supportive father. There is no money or even an acknowledgement of paternity for May and Ida' struggle to care for her daughter and elderly father is heartbreaking. May is a strong and determined child but she is a lost soul for many years not understanding who or what she is. She is a white child among her darker skinned playmates and family friends. May however fiercely loves Jamaica and its beauty is lovingly described in this book. Most beautiful of all however is Navy Island, owned by her father , where he visits to cavort in his pink mansion and swimming pool with famous guests. In the prologue, the adult May is there, in the ruined house on her beloved Navy Island. How she gets there is a complex and fascinating story with an odd assortment of characters who become central to her life and that of her mother. I highly recommend this book and I did not think that it was too long. A complex story takes time and it also requires proper character developement which this author has accomplished.
I wasn't sure at first about this book's "hook"--the idea that one of the main characters was the illegitimate daughter of film star Errol Flynn. Fortunately, Flynn's image--on film and in the minds of his lover, daughter, and friends--hovers in the background of the novel, a representative of a more glamorous world gone by and of the rising colonial and racial tensions in Jamaica from the 1960s onward. Cezair-Thompson creates a tangible tropical atmosphere with her lyrical prose, and the testy relationship between mother and daughter can be understood by people in all cultures.
I found this book to well written and compulsively readable, the addition of Errol Flynn in the plot is interesting but the real star is May, the child that he sires with a teenage Jamaican girl and leaves to fend for herself. The book is at once heartbreaking, breathtakingly beautiful and hopeful. I look forward to reading more by Cezair-Thompson. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction, women's fiction, literary fiction or who just wants to be consumed by a wonderful book.
I had only an excerpt of this novel to review (the first 2 chapters) and am eager to finish the story. I was pleasantly surprised to be drawn into the novel. I was drawn into the visuals of the island and the landscape and curious to know what develops with the characters I've just met!
The Pirate¿s Daughter spans generations of a Jamaican family, focusing first on Ida Joseph who, as a teenager, has an affair with aging movie star Errol Flynn and bears his daughter May Flynn, the focus of the second half. Usually, I find novels using real people as characters to be irritating, and I am not a big fan of mother/daughter novels, so I had trepidations about reading Cezair-Thomspson' s hefty novel. My worries were put to rest within the first couple of chapters. The Pirate¿s Daughter turned out to be a surprisingly delightful read. It has an elegantly constructed plot, complex characters, steady pacing, and a satisfying resolution. The book is about the story, not the writing, which is clean and unobtrusive. Even the author¿s use of Jamaican dialect is so natural it blends right into the narrative. At one point, May is talking with her would-be lover, a character based on novelist and ex-pat Jamaica resident, Ian Fleming, about writing books. He tells her he is thinking of writing a book that would be ¿Lolita, Lady Chatterley¿s Lover, and Rebecca all mixed together and set in Jamaica.¿ Cezair-Thompson may not have accomplished such a lofty goal, but she made a respectable effort. The Pirate¿s Daughter is a good book.
I truly enjoyed this book from start to finish. The author does a great job with keeping the readers attention. I didn't know alot about Errol Flynn before reading this book . I did reconize alot of the famous people mentioned in the book like, Truman Capote. It's basically a story about how a young woman falls in love with the famous actor and has a child . May (Errol Flynn's daughter) grows up knowing and having to live with who her famous father was.
Jamaica, pirates (well, the movie version anyway), native beauties, and the hint of a treasure map. This novel has them all but the pirate in question is actually the actor Errol Flynn who on a chance visit to Jamaica is entranced by its beauty and decides to stay. The story is told mostly from the point of view of Ida--a "native beauty" who entices Flynn, and May-the daughter of their union. What follows tells us as much about the turbulent politics and social upheaval of Jamaica during those times as about the tortured love affairs and struggle for survival of these young ladies. The author does a good job of capturing the Jamaican dialect and cultural struggles. The story is drags a bit at times, but it you want a different way of experiencing Jamaica it is a good read.
May, along with, evidently, a potential flock of others, is the illegitimate daughter of Errol Flynn and the stunningly beautiful, 16-year-old Ida. The first part of the book is Ida's story while the rest follows May. Pirate's Daughter is about women (and girls) in love, self-discovery, race relations and heritage, and of course, Jamaica. A tale rooted in place and time.
Hmm. I loved the bejewelled Jamaica island; however, that was it. I didn't like the characters; I felt very sorry for Errol Flynn, the so-called swashbuckling pirate, who was a compulsive sex addict with no respect for the feelings of the women who loved him, such as Ida. Ida was the only one that I did like, and I found it sad that such an appealing character fell for such a weak louse and not her husband. As for the daughter . . . Altho, I did find it very interesting to read about a different culture at war, and the end of the family's Paradisical villa will break your heart.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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
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.