I read The rover, by Joseph Conrad.
The rover starts slowly, constructing a very interesting story, with very few characters, but full of emotion; and ends up in a complete thrill, with strong plot twists and lots of action.
The author takes time to build his characters, and allows us to move through the inner thoughts of every single one, in a multi perspective narrative, such that we get a complete inner understanding of their reasoning and feelings. Even in third person, we get into everything his characters were, are, and wish to be.
We have Peyrol, the main character, an old sailor, who wants to live peacefully in his last days, but is not allowed by the strong boiling blood of his French people, who are just coming out of French Revolution and starting the Napoleonic age.
Peyrol was at sea for a long time, and tries to hide the fact that he is not revolutionary, the movement which brought death to everything and everyone who opposed it, the famous French guillotine being the end of the road for so many anti-revolutionary.
Peyrol reaches a camp full of dark stories, Escampobar, where a young woman Arlette lives, a woman who saw the horrors of the revolution in her youth, being possibly mentally disordered by the tragic events which she witnessed. She is the actual heir apparent to the farm, as she is taken into custody by her only relative, aunt Catherine, unmarried and without children, and by Scevola, a dark man, full of revolutionary ideas, who is waiting for Arlette to come of age so he can wed her without appearing unchivalrous.
Everything changes when a young lieutenant, Real, arrives at Escampobar, initially without a big purpose, but things become clear once an English sloop starts watching the whole gulf near Toulon where Escampobar is located.
Being at war with the English, the French are trying to seize power in the area, and are trying to foul the English into abandoning the gulf, for them to move troops freely. Peyrol feels the danger and after capturing an English spy who was sniffing around his little boat, finds out Real’s real mission: to place false communication to Englishmen.
Arlette comes to life when she realizes that Real, whom meanwhile has become her secret crush, the object of her desire, is about to do a secret and dangerous mission in the area. Both of them realize that they have fallen in love with each other, but everything stands in their path.
The only one willing to help them is Peyrol, who uses circumstances to fool Scevola into capture, being locked down by the English spy, and to move his little boat in front the English sloop, such that the secret documents fall into the right hands of the enemy, where they are supposed to.
Peyrol changes his mind and sacrifices himself, also taking Scevola with him and his servant, such that Real and Arlette have a chance to be together.
Joseph Conrad has created a happy ending for us, in which Real and Arlette marry and live a happy life afterwards, only to remember the sacrifice that Peyrol ultimately made for them.
We see a Romeo and Juliet story with a happy ending this time, and we can salute the majestic story telling qualities of Joseph Conrad, who creates great characters for us. A little of the story looks rushed, like the falling in love of Real, sudden and complete, but otherwise, Arlette, Charlotte, her aunt and Peyrol are very well written.
A good novel, and another perspective on the French Revolution, which is highly praised today, but my feeling towards it, considering this perspective, is very much similar to the Russian Revolution.