Cecily's book reviews

In general I've written reviews of every book I've read since I joined GoodReads (RIP) in May 08, along with one or two I read prior to that. More recent reviews tend to be longer (sometimes a tad too long?). I always carry a book, though I don't get as much time as I'd like to get engrossed - life is busy, but in a good way. Too many of my favourite authors died without writing enough! Apart from reading, and writing about reading, I enjoy Scrabble, good restaurants, woodland, and attending the theatre.

Piratical fun from Peake 5/5*

Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor - Mervyn Peake

A delightful children's book written (handwriting) and illustrated by Mervyn Peake, though like all really good children's books, it can also be enjoyed by adults.

Note that this is unrelated to Mr Slaughterboard, which is a longer, less illustrated story of a bibliophile, and is included in "Peake's Progress" (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...).

This book reflects Peake's familiar love of pirates and islands, though it's really a simple story of friendship, fun and adventure.

The opening strikes a change from the traditional "Once upon a time", yet somehow has a fairytale familiarity:
"Far beyond the jungles and the burning deserts lay the bright blue ocean that stretched forever in all directions. There were little green islands with undiscovered edges, and whales swam around them in this sort of way." (and there is a picture).

The illustrations use a few solid colours (it was first published in 1939), but there is a wealth of detail in the lines, shading and stippling. This is especially true of details: tattoos, body hair, fabric, plants, sea creatures, and patched repairs of people(!), clothes and ship.

The publication date also means there are hints of colonialism, but in context, I have no problem with that. The lack of women reflects the plot and setting, and the gay subtext is just a subtext that will go over the heads of small children and shouldn't be an issue for anyone else (most cowboy stories and many pirate ones have similar, tacit, themes, which is why Brokeback Mountain was startling).

There is a panoply of fantastical creatures, with suitably exotic names, including the lonely Mousterashe, croaking Hunchabil, lazy Guggaflop, melancholy Saggerdroop, loathsome Squirmarins, along with the prosaically named Yellow Creature.

Short and charming. 

Currently reading

The Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy
Sebastian Peake, China MiƩville, Mervyn Peake
Mervyn Peake