Ship of the Line by C.S. Forester

Published by Little, Brown and Co.

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

Ship of the Line by C. S. Forester was the second Hornblower to be written, although it comes well into his career. He has just been given a ship of the line (one of the third rate or above, which would sit in the line of battle during an all-out fleet engagement, as opposed to a frigate) and posted to the Medeterranean to blockade Toulon.

However, what should be a plum assignment is made into sheer torture by the jealousy he is suffering. Several years earlier he had married a young woman out of a sense of duty, but he feels no love whatsoever for her. While fighting in Central America, he met the lovely Lady Barbara Wellesley and fell hopelessly in love with her. His ironclad moral convictions will not permit him to be unfaithful to the woman he wed, while his continuing attraction to Lady Barbara is made worse by her having married the admiral who will now be his commanding officer.

At least going back to sea does get him away from the temptation to stray. Hornblower throws himself into his duties with all the enthusiasm he can muster, although he is never able to entirely forget his frustration. After several minor actions he ends up in a hopeless battle against a much larger French force.

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Hornblower's story continues in Flying Colours.

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Review posted January 20, 2000

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