The Hurricane is exciting while it lasts

Before he was posted to the Tuamoto Archipelago, Dr. Kersaint was warned “those islands are sometimes visited by hurricanes, and from all accounts, they are most unpleasant things.”

Fifteen years later, Kersaint tells a young colleague the story of a handful of one hurricane’s survivors.

A man, a woman holding a baby, and a second woman cling to branches in a tree as hurricane roars.
Detail from the cover of The Hurricane.

 The Hurricane by Charles Nordhoff & James Norman Hall

Little, Brown, 1935. 275 p. 1936 bestseller #7. My grade: B-.


As the hurricane bears down on the Archipelago, the French, who administer the South Pacific islands, are seeking an escaped criminal, a native lad who a British merchant seaman had been training to take over his shipping business.

Terangi has been pulled from the sea by the local priest and brought home.

When the islands’ administrator accidentally discovers Terangi’s relatives are conspiring to help him get away, he sails off to find  the convict, leaving his wife at home watching the barometer fall.

Writer team Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall skillfully punctuate gray blurs of terrifying sound and sleep-deprived ache with vivid details that make readers feel the narrator truly lived through a hurricane.

They do not, however, go beyond telling an exciting story.

The survivors of  “the wind that overturns the land”  survive unchanged.

That’s would be impossible for anyone whose adventures occur outside their armchairs.

© 2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Forgotten History Kept Forgettable inHigh Towers

High Towers is a bodice-ripping historical novel about a lovely lass who becomes one of the early settlers of New Orleans.

Felicite’s father dies on the voyage to Montreal in 1697. Her mother returns to France, leaving the child to be brought up in the new world.

Felicite is adopted by Montreal’s leader, Charles le Moyne.  Le Moyne arranges a marriage for Felicite with a rich Frenchman and ships her to New Orleans to marry him.

Felicite is already in love with a poor carpenter who has preceded her to New Orleans, but she’s willing to sacrifice herself for the good of the French colonies. Her new husband turns out to be too much of a brute even for Felicite’s patriotism.

Thomas B. Costain takes his plot and characters straight from the shelf with nary a variation on the standard pot-boiler romance.

The only novelty here is the historical setting. The le Moynes were a real family of 10 French-Canadian brothers who played a major role in keeping America from falling under Spanish domination.

Costain tries to weave all 10 brothers into this novel. The result is a forgettable novel about an almost forgotten period in American history.

High Towers
By Thomas B. Costain
Doubleday, 1949
403 pages
1949 Bestseller #7
My Grade: C+
© 2009 Linda Gorton Aragoni