Chaos creates brave men and whimpering creatures, and award-winning writer Joan Druett describes
both in the captivating true ordeals of two shipwrecked groups in 1864 on Auckland Island. Dismal sub-Antarctic weather and 20 miles of hell-wrought chasms separated the two troops, neither knowing of the other’s plight.
Druett, adding this book to her 16 other titles, has a talent for storytelling and only occasionally falls into the voice of an overly informed maritime historian. The story centers
on the daily actions of the marooned groups, leaving individual characters rather thin, save for the leaders, who are closely studied for their particular styles of governance.
A timid, selfish, aristocratic lout from the Inverclaud doomed most of his crew with his lethargic leadership. The Grafton group, led by their egalitarian-minded captain, Thomas Musgrave, built a house, fashioned clothing from sealskins and created a forge that permitted construction of a sea-worthy dinghy that proved to be the party’s salvation.
Readers planning a cruise should not read this book. Those yearning for a classic man vs. nature, triumph-over-terrible-odds story, get ready to set sail.