31 Days of Cleansing: Day 22 Horratio Hornblower
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Have you read any good books lately? Did they make a big impression? Great books are like that, they change you in some way. That is part of my definition of a really good book, something that changes you for the better or makes you see things in a new light. How many life changing books have you read?
If you have read my posts before, you have noticed that we LOVE adventure stories at our house. Today's recommendation came from my father, who is a huge history buff. He read these books as a young man and later joined the Navy because he wanted to experience the sea first hand. I am talking about C.S. Forester's incredible series of Horratio Hornblower. Forester has long been considered one of the greatest writer's of his day and was greatly admired by such fellow writers as Ernest Hemingway and Winston Churchill.
There are 11 titles in the series, the first one is called Mr. Midshipman Hornblower. The books take place around the time of Napoleonic Wars. Englishman Hornblower, then age 17, is first commissioned into the Royal Navy. Hornblower is put down and somewhat abused by his peers because of his low rank on the ship, Hornblower manages to earn their respect and confidence. He is quick, intelligent, humble and a real gentleman. These traits cause envy and jealousy among the other members of the crew, but Hornblower wins them all over, and is soon recommended for a promotion. In the second book, Lieutenant Hornblower, the crazy ship's Captain begins making life threatening errors aboard the ship, causing the crew members hatch a mutinous plan. Hornblower gets caught in the middle, and ends up being blamed for an attempt on Captain's life. At the end of the second book, Hornblower is about to be promoted again, but with the court-martial, his future in the Navy is uncertain. What happens next? You'll have to read them to find out!
The other titles in this series are:
Mr. Midshipman Hornblower
Hornblower and the Hotspur
Hornblower During the Crisis
Beat to Quarters
Hornblower and the Atropos
Ship of the Line
Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies
There is just tons of history and geography in these novels. They are beautifully written and wonderfully engaging. Hornblower is promoted in each book, and re-assigned to another part of the world each time. He masters military tactics and strategy, along with mathematics, French, Spanish and Latin. Pick up a globe and follow his adventures to the West Indies, France, Spain, the Caribbean, the Baltic Sea, Russia, and South Africa. He also runs into many real life historic leaders like Napoleon and Tsar Alexander I of Russia.
Sadly, I have not found these books on any home schooling reading list. Hornblower is an admirable character, but he is not without fault. He is trapped into marrying a woman he doesn't love, and later cheats on her (Hornblower and the Hotspur). After his wife and child pass away, he finds true love, commitment and loyalty. By the end of the series, he and his new wife and live happily ever after. I still recommend these books for advanced middle school and high school students, even with the infidelity involved. It makes for excellent discussion on Biblical morals and righteousness.
There is some controversy over which book to read first. When these books were originally published in the 1930's, the debut novel was Beat to Quarters. The author eventually went back and wrote the beginning books in the 1950's. Mr. Midshipman Hornblower is reviewed to be slightly slower in nature than the other books, but it is still an excellent read. Some of the books had different titles when published in England, and there were also some short stories published along with the novels which makes the order of things even more confusing. There are also titles that include several of the novels in one binding. Your library should have all these listed above available, but may also run across additional titles. They are available for purchase on Amazon, if you can't find them anywhere else.
After you finish your reading, have a movie marathon and watch the A&E TV production of Hornblower staring Ioan Guffudd as honorable Horratio. This mini-series aired from 1998-2003, and is stunning in it's accurate depiction of Foresters first three novels. The costumes and sets are simply amazing, a definite do not miss! Amazon sells a Collector set with all the discs, but we were able to check them out from our library, and found them on Netflix.
Linking up today!
This entry was posted on Thursday, January 24, 2013 and is filed under Homeschooling,Miscellaneous,Product Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.