Hey everyone! I am back with my May read, The Saintly Buccaneer by Gilbert Morris! I LOVE Gilbert Morris’ House of Winslow series, and the first book in the series is my absolute favorite! (Don’t get me started on fangirling over that book or I’ll never get this review done.)
This book, The Saintly Buccaneer, is the fifth book in the series. I’ve read the other four before, and someday may do a review on them, but for now I’ll just be doing this one. It was very intriguing, to say the least, and I got through it very quickly (thus why my review is so early this month!) Anyways, without further ado, here is my book review on The Saintly Buccaneer by Gilbert Morris!
The Synopsis (Taken from the back cover)
Divided by political and spiritual differences, Nathan and Paul, the Winslow cousins, continue their separate struggles during the American Revolution. Nathan fights to keep the hopes of the Continental Army alive at Valley Forge while Paul remains bitterly opposed to the Revolution.
Providence temporarily delivers Paul from his own acrid character. He is shanghaied by a British press gang to work aboard a navy frigate, and a sudden attack of amnesia results in an innocence and confidence foreign to all he has been before. Can he escape the ship? Can he escape the person he used to be when his memory returns?
Positive Messages: The main focus of this book is really Paul Winslow’s redemption. At the beginning of the story, he’s a spoiled, cruel young man who seeks only for his own pleasure. Yet when he awakes aboard a navy frigate, memory-less, he’s basically a whole new person. A Christian sailor named Whitefield helps him greatly through his confusion, and also witnesses to him. For his part, Paul (known as Hawke during his time of amnesia) is totally different from the hooligan he used to be, now filled with honor, kindness, and forgiveness. When he meets someone who knows who he is, and is told about his past, he’s filled with shame over it, and when his memories resurface, he regrets his past actions.
Nathan and Julie, his wife, though not seen too much, are also kind, taking care of a dying soldier and comforting his sister when he dies. They and Nathan’s father, Adam, all try to help Paul when they discover he has been imprisoned, despite all the wrong he did them before.
Dan Greene, an unorthodox Quaker preacher, is kind to others and loyal to his country. He stands up to protect a woman from slander, even accepting to duel to protect her. When unexpected circumstances arise to make him unable to be at the duel, he makes sure to return to offer to still do it, in order to keep his word. He also encourages people and witnesses to them while in prison, and it’s through his faith and kindness that several characters are able to survive.
Charity Alden, the main female protagonist, is strong-willed, but sympathetic towards the revolution. She tends many sick and dying men at Valley Forge despite her disgust at the conditions, and finally she courageously offers to go in search of a doctor and more supplies. She also risks everything to serve the revolution, even losing the very things she loves most. Overtime, she forgives people who have hurt her, and tries to help them afterwards, even when she doesn’t really want to.
Several other minor characters are shown to have good character, being kind to prisoners and those who differ in their opinions on matters ranging from religion to politics. A captain saves a man’s life when he should have been hung for treason. In return, when the captain is captured, the man frees him at the behest of his conscious and fiancée.
Paul’s family, for all their uppity, cold appearance, is actually very loving, and no matter what he’s done, they want him to come home, telling him they love him unconditionally.
Determination and trust in God is shown throughout the story by the Patriots, who never stop believing in their cause. What I believe is the main message of the story is also a very powerful theme: No matter how bad your life is, Christ can turn it around if you let Him.
Spiritual Content: This was a very interesting book because both the main characters started off as unbelievers and skeptics. As my favorite character of Gilbert Morris’ also started out as a skeptic (Gilbert Winslow from the The Honorable Imposter), I was very excited to see how he would write the transition from unbeliever to believer, which he did very well in The Honorable Imposter.
Paul, when he has amnesia, is taken care of mostly by a girl and a man named Whitefield, who is a Christian. He also befriends another Christian named Burns, and they are the only two mentioned to be Christians on the navy frigate he is on. They end up becoming two of his closest friends, and seems truly open to the gospel. When he is imprisoned with Dan Greene, he can’t help but admire the man and the other Christians with him as he prays, and he can tell the preacher’s religion does something different to him. At the very end, one of his Christian friends saves his life, and as he lays dying, he encourages Paul to accept Christ, which he does.
Charity Alden, the other major character, also is an unbeliever. She comes across Paul’s cousin, Nathan Winslow, and his wife Julie early on, and they take care of her brother and witness to him before his death. They also comfort her and help her in ways they can. Though Charity doesn’t always like Julie’s steadfast belief in God, she still admires her. Plenty of times, however, she questions how a good God could allow certain things to happen, and she grows bitter towards two men who have hurt her. However, when one saves her life and she discovers the other didn’t do what she thought he did, she grows confused at herself, and eventually forgives them and even helps them. When she watches someone witness to a dying woman she has helped to care for, and sees the change it makes in her, she finally accepts Christ herself.
Besides the salvation stories of the two main characters, there is a LOT of other Christian themes and messages in the story, so it may not be a book for someone who is overly sensitive to Christian content. I didn’t think it was bad, and if I came across a part that bored me, I just skimmed it and it was just fine.
An atheist says that if they escape from prison, he’ll believe in God. Other characters talk about God, and pray. A couple people quote the Bible, and there are mentions of God’s will. A few other people get saved, and an unbeliever remarks that he thinks God’s just about caught up to him. A man and woman agree they don’t want to marry someone who is not a Christian.
There are probably some other similar spiritual things involved in this book, but those are the main ones. Remember, this is a Christian Historical Fiction, so it has a lot of Christian principles in it, which I personally like.
The only reason I am giving this 4.5 stars instead of 5, however, is because I felt the salvations of the two main characters were a little… unrealistic. Like I couldn’t see as clear of transition from skeptic to believer as I did in The Honorable Imposter. It reminded me a little more of a decision made in an emotional moment rather than the fact that they truly saw their sinful state and needed the Lord. And then Charity suddenly became all spiritual as if she’d been saved for years. Maybe she was just a fast grower?
Romantic Content: Ah yes. This is also a Christian Romance, so there’s plenty of that in there. It’s all very clean and appropriate, so no worries on that side! I’ll mention some of the highlights.
Though never directly stated as such, it’s strongly implied that a man attempts to rape a girl. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen, but *spoiler alert* strangely enough, later on, after much character change on both their parts, the two get engaged.
Another girl is known to be a flirt, and her father has to forcefully remove her from a relationship he does not approve of. She’s strong willed and possessive, and when she gets into another relationship, she determines to marry the man.
Two couples get engaged, but things happen to break off both engagements. One poor guy is said to have been dumped twice, and he’s worried about approaching another girl he likes. In the end, her father encourages him to do so, approving him as a potential son-in-law.
A man gets jealous that a girl he likes chooses another man over him. Several unmarried couples share kisses, but it goes no further than that.
When Paul loses his memory, the girl who cares for him mentions that some of the men might “suspect them”, hinting towards then believing they are a couple since they spend so much time together. However, because of his amnesia, he’s clearly confused and has no idea why they should be suspicious of them.
A wife is mentioned to be pregnant twice in the book. A girl is nearly accosted by unruly men in a military camp.
A girl has to get a ball dress at the last minute to help create a ruse. The gown horrifies her when the dressmaker makes it too low-cut, but the girl has no choice but to wear it as there’s no time to fix it. It’s implied she wears a shawl to attempt to cover herself a little, and notices other ladies at the ball in the same style of dress.
The romances themselves I thought were very well done, so for my high standard of romance, Gilbert Morris wrote it very well!
Violent Content: As this book is set towards the end of the Revolutionary War, there is plenty of violence. Some, especially the sea battles, are somewhat descriptive. While it didn’t bother me, it may bother more sensitive readers.
The beginning of the book takes place in Valley Forge, and there is some description of the awful conditions and dying men, which may be a little graphic for some readers who aren’t comfortable with such topics. There are other scenes of injured men being treated as well with descriptions of blood.
A girl is assaulted twice. Both times she gets away unscathed, biting one man, and throwing a candle-snuffer at another. The latter time severely injures the man, leaving him with a scar for the remainder of the book. He also gets punched when he insults her again.
A man challenges another man to a duel. (It never happens). A sailor attempts to kill another sailor while supposed to be drilling with swords.
There are many sea battles, and thus plenty of deaths. This is where the majority of the violence takes place. A cannonball destroys a deck of gunners, turning the deck scarlet, and one men is lying there, legless. A lieutenant is injured badly by a large splinter, but survives. It is stated that parts of bodies are scattered around after a cannonball hits the deck, and another man is killed by a large splinter. A crew of another ship is badly wounded, and some men are killed, their bodies mangled and squirming. Plenty of others get killed by bullets, bayonets, and swords. Some side characters get killed in these attacks, and someone who is sliced through the throat falls kicking and gagging to the deck. Another sailor is shot in the eye.
A girl has nightmares of when she was almost attacked. She also nearly drowns once.
A sailor is forced to climb up and down to the lookout with a heavy weight on his back for hours, leaving blood on the wood from his raw hands.
A man forcefully takes another man from his home, and there is talk of hanging him. However, he goes to prison instead, and the prison conditions are also lightly described.
An old woman gets sick and acts frantic when she is not unconscious. A woman slaps a man, and instinctively, he slaps her back, then apologizes when she cries.
Language Content: There was no foul language in this book! There are a few times when people call others names, but there’s nothing explicit.
Other Negative Content: I can’t really think of too much negative content this time around, so I’ll mention two very minor things.
The first I already mentioned about the salvations feeling a little unrealistic. They felt more like sudden, emotional decisions. I think because the characters had been so skeptical at first and had so many questions about God that I never really thought were answered that it seemed a little unrealistic. I am glad they got saved, don’t get me wrong, but I think it would have been more powerful if it had been connected to answering their questions about God.
The other thing is the head-hopping. I have heard head-hopping is permissible in romance books, and actually to be expected, so maybe that’s why Gilbert Morris does it so often. For me, it doesn’t bother me too much, and I’ve come to expect it from Morris since it is his style, but for someone who may get annoyed with that, this book has a lot of it, so it may not be the best read for them.
Some people may think this book is too preachy, and others may not be happy about how all the couples get together at the end, but as for me, I personally think it was a pretty good book and would recommend!
Total Content Rating: 4.3/5 Stars
The Saintly Buccaneer is definitely an interesting tale! Though not my favorite of the Winslow series, it has memorable characters, and the plot was very intriguing. I enjoyed the spiritual lessons in it, though I can see where people could say it’s preachy, and the romance was pretty clean, going no further than a few kisses. The violence was a little more descriptive than some other things I’ve read, which may be a turn-off to some people, but I didn’t mind it, and I felt it raised the stakes and showed a little of what the Revolutionary War would have been like.
As mentioned above, the only thing I didn’t like about the book was that I felt the salvations were too unrealistic. I felt the author built up a lot of questions the two characters had about God that were never really answered, (or maybe I missed it?), and that both of them gave their lives to Christ in an emotionally charged situation. While I’m glad they got saved, I wish it could have been executed in a little bit more believable way.
In all, I would definitely recommend this book to Christian friends and readers who enjoy historical fiction and romance from a Christian perspective!
Personal Rating: 4.75/5 Stars
Thank you so much for reading my review! Writing this has made me want to do a review of my favorite book of Morris’, The Honorable Imposter! If this is something you’d want me to do, please let me know in the comments below! Also let me know if you’ve read this book (or any of Morris’ books, for that matter!) If you haven’t, do you think you will be reading this book?
God bless, and thanks again for reading! ~ Kay Leigh