Title: Hornblower and the Widow McCool.
Author: C.S. Forester.
Genre: Fiction, literature, adventure, war lit, historical fiction, naval fiction, short story.
Publication Date: 1967.
Summary: (Published with the last unfinished volume, Hornblower During the Crisis, but taking place at a very early point in Hornblower's career.) Hornblower is junior lieutenant in the ship of the line HMS Renown, shortly after his promotion to Lieutenant. After capturing a French ship, Hornblower is assigned the distasteful task of arranging Irish revolutionary McCool's execution for desertion from the Royal Navy, with specific instructions that Hornblower ensures the man makes no last speech. In return for a promise from McCool to stay silent, Hornblower agrees to send a simple note and his chest of possessions to McCool's widow after the execution. But while at sea, Hornblower realizes neither the note, the chest, nor the prisoner's last request are quite what they seem.
My rating: 7.5/10.
My Review: This is a fun little addition to the Hornblower universe.
♥ To risk one’s life to effect such an exchange would be a most illogical thing to do, but logic, Hornblower concluded sadly, had no bearing upon patriotism, and the bare facts were the least considerable factors.
♥ There was nothing so effective as a few martyrdoms to ennoble and invigorate a cause.
The hanging of McCool would merely be adding fuel to the fire that England sought to extinguish. Two peoples actuated by the most urgent of motives — self-preservation and patriotism — were at grips in a struggle which could have no satisfactory ending for any lengthy time to come.
♥ Hornblower’s chin was on his breast. It was a hard, unrelenting world, and he was an officer in the hardest and most unrelenting service in that world — a service in which a man could no more say ‘I cannot’ than he could say ‘I dare not’.