88 Days – A true story of Somali Pirates in the Indian Ocean by Francis Roucou

This is a first person account of being kidnapped and held for ransom by Somali pirates. Roucou was the captain of the Indian Ocean Explorer, a boat from the Seychelles which was chartered by tourists for diving and fishing — although only the crew was on board when the boat was captured.

It’s what you might expect: quite an interesting story told by someone who isn’t primarily a writer. He does a perfectly good job of telling what happened, but it’s not full of amazingly evocative description or profound psychological insight.

Still, it is an interesting story, and it does give an idea of the incredibly difficult situation he was in, being the man who had to interact face-to-face with the pirates while only having a very limited sense of what negotiations were happening in the background, and very rarely being given a chance to call the Seychelles, but only with the pirates listening in to his calls.

88 Days is my book from the Seychelles for the Read The World challenge.

» The photo, Royal Marines on Counter Piracy Operations Near Somalia, is © the Ministry of Defence and used under a CC by-nc licence. It’s not directly relevant to this book — no swooping in by Royal Marines was involved in the story — but at least it’s a CC licensed image related to Somali piracy.

Blue Bay Palace by Nathacha Appanah

Blue Bay Palace is my book from Mauritius for the Read The World challenge.

Looking over some of my old posts about books, I’ve noticed a tendency to bend over backwards to find nice things to say in an attempt to seem fair-minded, to the point that I re-read the reviews and think they are a bit misleading. So I decided to be a bit harsher when necessary. This is one of those times.

I had problems with the prose style from the first page; it’s trying too hard for a certain kind of literary gravitas that it can’t manage, and as a result it is badly overwritten. In fact the combination of florid prose and a rather conventionally told love story reminded me above all of Mills & Boon: especially since it features a poor girl with a rich lover in an exotic location (although the ‘exotic’ part is fair enough). The main difference is that Mills & Boon novels have happy endings, and this book doesn’t; in fact, once the love story starts going wrong, it gets a bit more interesting… but then it blows it with a melodramatic and unsatisfying ending.

On the positive side, it was very short.

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