These reviews are for the 2007 maritime historical fiction version of Resolute’s story:
From the Canadian Arctic to the President’s Desk HMS RESOLUTE
and How She Prevented a War
THE HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY REVIEW by ROB AMEND
In 1852, HMS Resolute, under Captain Henry Kellett, ventured into the Arctic as part of a search operation led by the sadistic Sir Edward Belcher. It was the squadron’s duty to locate John Franklin, the explorer. During the mission, Resolute became lodged in the arctic ice. After two years, she was abandoned by the expedition and left for dead.
HMS Resolute, by Elizabeth Matthews, takes place during the British involvement in the Crimean War, but its focus is on the escalating tensions between the United States and Britain regarding the US’s neutral status. This drama plays out against the backdrop of the increasingly volatile slavery issue in the United States.
Matthews focuses the American portion of this story on a Quaker family in the New London, Connecticut, whaling industry. Fairfax Abraham and his son are torn by their different approaches to the issue of slavery, and the son, Fair Abe, volunteers to go on an arctic whaling expedition to clear his head. While on his journey, he spends some time aboard Resolute. By the end of the story, both the Abraham family and the Resolute play central roles in the resolution of the diplomatic difficulties between the US and Britain.
HMS Resolute is a well-written, though short, novel. I say short because there are a number of incidents that are addressed in the book that I would like to read more about. The writing was well done, and I wouldn’t mind spending more time immersed in the world that Matthews has created. This book would make a good addition to most historical fiction collections. It is a fast-paced, enjoyable novel, which covers a period that has not really been addressed by other writers of historical fiction.
From William Barr, Arctic Historian:
“Elizabeth Matthews’ research is thorough…[She has] a vivid imagination -that’s a compliment! – to weave such a lively and convincing story around the historical facts. I have to confess that all the political machinations and tensions between Britain and the US were entirely new to me. I am really impressed.” -William Barr-
William Barr, holds degrees in Geography from the University of Aberdeen,, Scotland, and McGill University, Quebec. He has published 16 books, and is professor emeritus of geography, University of Saskatchewan, and is now a Research Fellow inresidence at the Arctic Institute of North America, University of Calgary. He has published 16 books, and for the past 30 years he has focused his research on the history of Arctic exploration.
From Debbie Bram:
“I just finished reading “Resolute” and enjoyed it thoroughly. Not only did I learn about an interesting period in American and British history but I did so in such a pleasurable way. Really a great read!”
From Mike and Sandy Severence:
“Your creating the time line with Resolute as a base and interweaving the Kellett’s and Abraham’s lives was exceptionally well done…to the point where we were disappointed to read [in the historical notes] that the Abrahams were your own creation!”
From Robert Nesher:
“I enjoyed [your book] very much. I love to learn while being entertained.”
From Beth Galipeau:
“Your book…is really very good. What a story. .. The information in the content is really educational. All sorts of stuff I knew nothing about. The people are very believable and the plot is excellent. I saw a review on the amazon website that said it would make a good film. I thought that myself before reading the review. I also think that there is so much going on in the plot that it would be better as a series as it would be a shame to leave chunks out of it.
You taught me new stuff about the quaker way of life, abolition of slavery, whaling, exploration of the frozen north to name but a few.”
RIPPING YARN! By ANJINSAN (Shoreham-by-Sea, UK)
HMS Resolute covers an fascinating period before the American Civil War when Britain and America nearly went to war with each other. It is well grounded in the complex politics of the time. This is a forgotten tale, which few know about, that starts with the search for the Northwest Passage. Although this is a fictional work the author has obviously done very thorough research on the ship and the people involved, and it is clear that she has a deep knowledge of her subject. The book is very readable and and the characters are believable. It should appeal to lovers of historical fiction in Canada, USA and Britain. My only criticism is that one event, and there are many dramatic episodes in this tale, when the crew of Resolute rescues the starving sailors from HMS Investigator, is only given a brief mention.Perhaps the author should consider a non-fiction book where she could go into the events in even greater depths.
Also,I have just seen Nicholas Cage’s new film, NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS, which heavily features the Resolute Desks. The entire 1st half of the movie revolves around Queen Victoria’s writing desk and the President’s Resolute desk, and the clues they contain. I would recommend this book to any moviegoers who wish to learn more about the intriguing story of this national treasure- HMS Resolute. Although Elizabeth Matthews’ book is a work of maritime historical fiction, it appears to be based on 90% historical fact, and is an excellent reference point for Resolute searchers. Her book would make a good film!
from PAULA NAKAYAMA
“I didn’t read the book as quickly as I normally would. When I find well written characters I tend to slow it down so I don’t finish too soon and lose my new ‘friends’. Sometimes the author can make you want to stay in the story and not have it end. I found that true of your writing! I loved all the characters, real or invented, especially the story of Fair Abe. I despised Belcher and wished great harm to befall him! The characters were vibrant, thoughtful, brave and honourable. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent on deck and at beautiful Clonacody although I did need to brush up on my nautical terms! I also loved the term kerfuffle, haven’t heard that in awhile. Please keep me in mind when your next book is finished. You might think of writing high sea adventure novels! I loved the story, history and fiction all mixed together for a wonderful read.”