Book Review : The Wings of the Morning
By Louis Tracy
Heading into a typhoon in the South China Sea, the Sirdar is on a course that will forever change the life of one of its most spirited and attractive passengers, Iris Deane. When the ship breaks in two on a barrier reef, the young woman is pulled to safety by Robert Jenks, a sailor who is more than he seems. The shipwreck’s only survivors, the two find themselves washed ashore on a desert island, where they encounter untold adventures and a blossoming romance.
First published in 1903, The Wings of the Morning is an exciting tale of perils from storms, sharks, and head-hunting island natives. It is also a tale of attraction, as a modest young woman and her mysterious rescuer are drawn together by adventure and circumstance.
More than 50 years before action-adventure films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Louis Tracy wrote novels teeming with the kind of thrills that make the heart race. The Wings of the Morning is a prime example. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
After reading Number Seventeen I had to read another Louis Tracy novel and chose The Wings of the Morning. There are several predictable things in a Tracy novel, but predictable isn’t always bad. I know there will be a clean romance, there will be turn of the century remarks that don’t fit in with today’s views and there will be good vocabulary words that I will have to look up.
Rather than a mystery, The Wings of the Morning is served up as an adventure – à la Robinson Crusoe, which Tracy acknowledges with a nod from the characters. Jenks is ingenious in solving problems and utilizing the resources on hand. Much like Crusoe, Jenks is given everything they need by the island, which isn’t realistic, but sure is fun. Iris is naive, beautiful and charming, and the foil to the brooding Byronic hero, Robert Jenks. I laughed when the author describes that the British are even better at dying than any other people on earth. He is definitely pro-Britain, to the point of being ridiculous. There are a few moments when I wonder if he was poking fun at his nation, such as when he describes Iris’s embarrassment over expressing her feelings as the “natural reticence of the English”, and the need for a stiff upper lip (though I don’t think he quite termed it that way).
One of my favorite things about this novel are the unusual words. I was glad to be reading it on my kindle so I could easily look up words while reading. Here are a couple of examples:
Subaltern: an officer in the British army below the rank of captain.
Taffrail : an ornamented rail around the ship’s stern.
Jemadar: was originally an armed official of a zamindar (feudal lord) in India who, like a military general, and along with Mridhas, was in charge of fighting and conducting warfare, mostly against the peasants and common people who lived on the lord’s land.
Roseate: rose-colored, “the early, roseate light”.
“Sir John, her husband, frowned judicially. That frown constituted his legal stock-in-trade, yet it passed current for wisdom with the Hong Kong bar.”
And, here is a description that I thought was delicious:
“The dot became a mere speck, undistinguishable beneath a celestial microscope such as the gods might condescend to use.”
I recommend Louis Tracy as a great summer read. It is a lot of fun to read something written from the early 1900’s.
3.5 – 4 out of 5 stars
If you liked this one try reading The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery.