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Publisher's Summary

Captain Jack Aubrey sails away from the hated Australian prison colonies in his favourite vessel the Surprise, pondering on middle age and sexual frustration. He soon becomes aware that he is out of touch with the mood of his ship: to his astonishment he finds that in spite of a lifetime's experience he does not know what the foremost hands or even his own officers are thinking.

They know, as he does not, that the Surprise has a stranger aboard: and what they, for their part, do not know is that the stranger is potentially as dangerous as a light in the powder magazine itself.

©1992 Patrick O'Brian (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Clarissa Oakes

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  • Mr. N. W. Boothman
  • 08-26-20

A weak (ish) link?

Patrick O'Brian's four-novel sequence of Aubrey and Maturin's great voyage around the world is an incredible achievement, especially considering it didn't begin until the 13th book in the series. But if there's one that's slightly less satisfying than the others, perhaps it's this. O'Brian is clearly fascinated by the character of Clarissa Oakes and the effect she has on the ship's company, but the way it plays out leaves credibility stretched thin. Stop reading now if you'd rather avoid spoilers...

...but the way O'Brian seeks to explain Clarissa's apparent willingness to sleep with every officer in the ship, (excepting Jack and Stephen) just doesn't wash. No joy from the physical act of love after a childhood of abuse...okay, we'll buy that. Though surely that would make someone less willing, rather than more? Ignorant of men and the social contracts around adultery...no, that doesn't really wash. Yes, there was the sheltered up-bringing, but then she kept the accounts in a brothel, killed someone, endured arrest, trial and transportation. A steep learning curve in every aspect of real life and common sense. And she likes to be liked. Well, so do we all, but not to THAT extent.

The other thing that dips slightly below the usual O'Brian standard is the lack of action. Not just action in the military sense but of anything really happening. There's a situation elsewhere in the Pacific that needs dealing with and they eventually get round to it, but that's your lot in the ten lengthy chapters. Otherwise, all the good stuff is still present: the characters, the language, the botanising, the seamanship, the letter-writing. But as a book, it's really just one extended chapter in a longer story. On to The Wine-Dark Sea!


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  • Richard
  • 07-03-20

Very enjoyable

Great story. Well read. Kept me going all the way. Rik Jerom is the man. So well read.

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  • ben
  • 03-10-15

More of the same

Not sure why you need a review of this book. You're either well invested by now, and know what to expect or you should start at the beginning!

That aside, another naval romp in the same vein as previous entries in the series. Not the best of them but solid nonetheless

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  • William Siddall
  • 02-24-14

O'Brian at his best

Where does Clarissa Oakes rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I think "Clarissa Oakes" is my favourite in the series

Who was your favorite character and why?

Jack Aubrey, because his character has developed as he has grown older, whereas Steven Maturin is still as enigmatic as when we first met him.

Which character – as performed by Ric Jerrom – was your favourite?

Killick, surly, rather stupid, faithful, and devoted to Jack Aubrey

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The unspoken understanding between Aubrey and his coxswain Bonden not to maroon Oakes and the stowaway Clarissa

Any additional comments?

I look forward to the rest of the series

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  • Mark
  • 10-15-13

Fantastic again....

As always the characterisations and story are captivating for those of us who follow Lucky Jack and Stephen Mturin through their voyages. For me again it is made all the more enjoyable by the fantastic narration of Ric Jerrom. I love my audio books replacing the little time I have for reading these days with the joys of listening to a master telling me the story as i travel to and from work. He seems to have the knack of making all the characterisations real and enjoyable and unlike many narrators it does not grate when a male narrator tries to dramatise a female character. Enjoyable stuff as always. On to the next one. As long as they keep churning out the books narrated by Mr Jerrom I will keep downloading them. Thanks Audible and thanks Ric

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  • Andrew Finnerty
  • 06-18-22

Ric Jerrom at his best.

Although this story is in my opinion one of the weakest in the Patrick OBrien series, the narrator Ric Jerrom does a masterful job here. His narration is clear and understandable with none of the asinine faux accents that make other audiobooks so annoying.

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  • A. Moore
  • 06-02-21

fantastic!

one of the very best in the series. exciting, characterful, a masterwork. O'Brien is truly unequalled in style, content and narrative, and the depth of his research is always astounding. he raises the historical novel to be the equal of the best in literature.

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  • Alex Bowling
  • 05-22-16

A woman on board is always bad news.

or is it? another cracker, well narrated with tropical adventure aplenty for jack and Stephen

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  • Mr
  • 07-31-15

As before...

Can't get enough of the Aubrey/Maturin series. I was a serial reader and now I'm a serial listener!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-25-22

Huzzay for Ric Jerrom

Ric Jerrom, you star! I very much appreciate your voices- enough to distinguish the characters, but not over the top.

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  • Marshall Jackson
  • 04-21-21

Some humanity for female characters at last

This instalment stands out as one of the most emotionally mature narratives in the series, and it is striking when compared to earlier books in the series that dealt with matters of the heart, and matters of female company. For the first time, the dismal lives of many women during the time period are laid bare and matter-of-fact, and instead of being passed off as a fact of life or twisting those women into dislikable or damaged, it opens the door for real discussion and emotional growth, as well as a healthy dose of humanity.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the exchanges between the sailors and the inhabitants of Moahu. As always, the action is brought to life in such a way as to maintain a suspension of disbelief. However, it is the respect for personal, and cultural differences, as well as a clear avoidance of ‘low-hanging’ racist tropes (which have made appearances in POBs earlier works) that suggests some valuable work has gone on behind the scenes, and will keep bringing me back for more.

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  • Steve M
  • 01-16-19

Normally a fan but this was a

Having read the whole series I found this disappointing, very slow and almost like just filling sound bytes - skipped some sections to see if improved and didn't really - hoping next one is better

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  • john
  • 02-19-17

plot not found

Compared with the previous 14 Aubrey-Maturin audiobooks I have much enjoyed, this audiobook was "Missing in Action". There is almost no plot. Often the text was boring, even tedious. If it was the first of the series, there probably would not be a second.

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  • Ben Briggs
  • 10-30-16

pboz

as usual EXCELLENT STIRY NARRATION PREZENTATION AT USUAL SHPER STANDARD.
ENJOYED IT IN ALL RESLECTS