The strength of the story is character of Celia. Known as Captain Jack or Captain Fury as she stands on the deck of her ship, she is an American privateer, preying on British ships during the final years of the American Revolution. She is all that you might expect a pirate to be: dangerous, lusty, always in command of those around her.
She is more complex than this picture, though. The same woman who decapitated her former captain as she led a mutiny against him also giggles like a teen-ager as she reads bawdy passages from a novel. The daughter of a high-ranking British navy officer, she plunders and sinks British ships, killing men without hesitation; she protects cabin boys against a predatory captain. She will lie to attain her goals, and she sings the Hallelujah Chorus from the deck of her ship as three pirate crews hang on every note and the sun rises over the ocean. She has a degree in mathematics, and she sails into battle stripped to the waist, scars covering her body from a flogging she once received for refusing to cut her hair.
As we learn about her, we find that he same person can be good and bad, kind and cruel, full of love and full of hate. We read of piracy, murder, naval battles, and intrigue. We discover that one’s behavior may stem from multiple motivations, that love is a complicated emotion, and that our explanations for events are not always accurate.
Be warned -this is a long book, over seven hundred pages. Reading on a Kindle, I had not known its length when I began! My feeling is that the story could have been told well in fewer words.
The first part of the book – the first of four sections - consumes approximately four days, which Celia and Elliott spent primarily in bed. The descriptions of their activities are extended and detailed. While we do learn details of their lives and some about the life of a privateer during the American Revolution, I found little purpose to this section, other than to establish, in current American thought, a basis for their love. I almost gave up halfway through the section.
However, the real story begins in part two, with the real meat in parts three and four. In these sections, the story grabs you and moves forward. There is action and suspense. I found myself reading all afternoon, anxious to discover what would happen. The story is captivating; the writing is excellent. I highly recommend it!