This was probably more of a literary novel than I would normally read but, as it was an audiobook, I found it more enjoyable (as much due to the excellent narrator, Nicollete Mackenzie, as anything.) It tells the story of Maria Graham, a 30-something widow, and Admiral Cochrane, a married forty-something man and the time they spent together in Chile and Brazil in the early 1820s. These were real people who hadvery special friendship at the time of the fight for independence against colonialism in both countries. Whether they were actually lovers is purely speculative but it is on this concept that Rachel Billington has based her novel. And an excellent job she makes of it. Maria comes across as an erudite, slightly ascerbic,occasionally wickedly humourous woman, known in her day as a 'blue stocking.' Admiral Cochrane is a bluff, hearty 'sort of a chap', often wrapped up in his own concerns. Yet, in his dealings with Maria, he is often endearingly tender if somewhat bumbling. An excellent read, made more enjoyable by the brilliant characterisation of Maria.
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