Reviewed by Robin Landry
The Bright Eyed Mariner
by William Lambe
185 pages, RRP £3.50
William Lambe’s new novel, The Bright Eyed Mariner is a treat for those who enjoy both a good adventure yarn and a moving love story. Based loosely on the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, Lambe’s new book adds modern twist to the classic poem of a sailor who must pay for the crime of killing an albatross. In Lambe’s story, the captain doesn’t kill his wife but feels utterly responsible for her death and so we start off the story with the captain taking his sailing yacht out into a storm to let them both sink into a watery grave. The yacht that the captain now lives aboard is a testament of the love he and his wife once shared. After four years of passionate labor, the Bolero is ready for a cruise into the sunset of life. The captain has retired from his job of running commercial ships and looks forward to retiring and sailing the seven seas with his wife. Fate decides otherwise. On their maiden voyage into the South Seas, the Bolero is beset by pirates. The captain decides to let the pirates steal what they may instead of taking a chance of going to battle. His gamble doesn’t pay off and his wife loses her life instead.
Without his beloved wife, the captain decides that life holds no more mystery for him and plans to end it all during a raging storm. He unties Bolero and attempts to take her out to sea. Again, fate has other plans. As the ship slips from her ties, the captain loses control and swings the bow sprint across the stern of a nearby power yacht. The frightened woman on board the yacht tries to fend off the huge sail boat but ends up grabbing onto the bow sprint and being dumped unceremoniously onto the deck of the Bolero. The captain regains just enough control to head Bolero out to sea, only now he has to fight for his life because of his unwanted passenger.
With the addition of an innocent woman on board, the captain can no longer afford to sink his ship at sea. Now he must fight the storm with every ounce of skill he possesses. Together the captain and his red-hair, green-eyed beauty, Gerda, do battle with nature. Gerda handles the storm better than the captain who his knocked down by the swinging boom and nearly thrown overboard. With his ribs broken, the captain now must depend on the kindness of the stranger he’s taken aboard his vessel. Gerda, a nurse, nearly half his age, learns quickly. After getting the boat under control, Gerda tends to the captain and his broken ribs, and for a man who prides himself on his own self-reliance the captain is now in living hell.
Stranded in his bunk with all his needs being met by a beautiful woman, the captain tries to hide his feelings of lust for the Gerda. Gerda had no such inhibitions. Greedy, after a long dry spell with an inadequate former husband, Gerda nurses the captain back to health both mentally and physically.
Wrapped up in the pride of his manhood, the captain carries a torch for his dead wife, daring Gerda to try and replace his memories. Gerda accepts the unspoken challenge and gives herself to the captain with a vengeance. Like the dying man he supposed himself to be, the captain responds to Gerda and so awakens to life once again. With his awakening, the captain must now confront his wife’s tragic end and must decide what he’s going to do differently this time.
The captain decides to fight pirates this time. Dropping Gerda off in a safe port the captain sets off to find like-minded souls for his revenge of his wife’s brutal rape and murder.
To say anymore, would give away the story, so I’ll stop now and encourage readers to learn for themselves the fate of these rich and varied characters. The author could have let the captain slide in a one-dimensional character but instead shows the man with all his doubts and his extreme wonder at how his life unfolds. Gerda too, is more than just a lusty female bent on conquering her man. Her delightful personality unfolds like a flower under the attention of a man finally worth of her charms. The story is told in the first person and so we never learn the captain’s name, but this fact in no way spoils the novel. Sprinkled throughout the book are lines from the poem The Ancient Mariner. It’s as if you get two stories from the price of one. The poem is a wonderful device, which adds a new dimension to this exciting story.
This is William Lambe’s fourth novel. He’s also written a novel called Hymen The God and Inapatua, the story of an Australian aboriginal.
About the Reviewer: Robin Landry started her career as a singer/muscian and played professionally for nearly ten years. Two unsuccessful albums later, the band broke up and she married and had a child. She then started writing first children’s short stories and then as her son and two step children grew, she started writing young adult novels and then some adult suspense novels. She is currently writing a screenplay for her step-daughter who’s in college to become a director. She is still looking for a publisher but stays busy in community service organizations and writing film and book reviews.