Brandy for the parson, baccy for the clerk…’ We have an image, mostly from movies and novels, of a tall ship riding gently at anchor in a moonlit, secluded bay with the ‘Gentleman’ cheerfully hauling kegs of brandy and tobacco ashore, then disappearing silently into the night shadows to hide their contraband from the excise men in a dark cave or a secret cellar.
But how much of the popular idea is fact and how much is fiction? Smuggling was big business – it still is – but who were these derring-do rebels of the past who went against paying taxes on the importation of luxury goods? Who purchased the illicit contraband? How did smugglers operate? Where were the most notorious locations?
Was it profitable, or just an inevitable path to arrest and the hangman’s noose?
This is an interesting read, I must say that it’s not usually what I would pick up, but I was fascinated and I was pleasantly surprised. Even though it ended up not being how I first imagined to be, as it is a mixture of fact and fiction which I thought was quite a unique approach to a historical book.
I really liked how the author interlaced the fact with the fiction, to create a fun and entertaining book that will satisfy all those who have a real thirst for the smuggling history and tales.
I’ve not read any of Helen Hollick’s work before and even though this particular book wasn’t exactly my cup of tea I would definitely read more of her work. I liked the way she wrote this, her voice is strong and there is a real passion for the subject within her words.
This is an enlightening book, there is a lot in it that will capture the imagination of a bygone era, the stories of the old pirates it utterly fascinating and definitely my favourite parts of the whole book. But, I did think that at times it did prove a taxing read where I did have to put it down for a few days and go back to it later. Even though the actual book itself is quite light, I thought I lot of the writing was a little heavy. I think the fictional side to the book is far stronger than that of the factual side, which is just far more engaging.
Over all this is will appeal for those who like the mix of fact and fiction, and off course the history of Smuggling.
This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Rosie!