*Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and Netgalley for providing an advance reader copy. This does not affect my review in any way*
Bonny & Read is out on 4th August 2022
A month or two ago, I decided to sign up to Netgalley again, but with the intention of being sensible and only requesting small numbers of books to keep it manageable. While idly browsing one day, I found Bonny & Read, and in the spirit of trying to broaden my reading horizons, I requested an arc and was fortunate to be accepted.
Rebels. Pirates. Women.
Caribbean, 1720. Two extraordinary women are on the run – from their pasts, from the British Navy and the threat of execution, and from the destiny that fate has written for them.
Plantation owner’s daughter, runaway wife, pirate – Anne Bonny has forged her own story in a man’s world. But when she is involved in the capture of a British merchant ship, she is amazed to find another woman amongst the crew, with a history as unconventional as her own. Dressed as a boy from childhood, Mary Read has been a soldier, a sailor, a widow – but never a woman in charge of her own destiny.
As their exhilarating, tumultuous exploits find fame, the ballad of Bonny and Read is sung from shore to shore – but when you swim against the tide of history, freedom is a dangerous thing…
Injury, death, death in childbirth, stillbirth
I went into this with very few expectations and not really knowing a lot about it. To be fair, the first time I’d heard of this was when I was browsing Netgalley! Having recently read R.J Barker’s The Bone Ships, I was in the mood for more sea-faring adventures; the fact that this was set during the 1700s and in an era I don’t know much about meant I ended up hitting request fairly quickly!
So, Bonny & Read then. I’ll be honest, I did read this in a day, but I’m still in two minds about how much I enjoyed this. I think for this to be coherent, I’m going to split this into the things I did like and the things I wished could have been developed more.
The things I did like:
- I found both characters’ storylines interesting and I liked the exploration of their life before they both became pirates
- I really liked the friendship between Anne and Mary, especially in such a male dominated space
- I enjoyed the historical backdrop and I have to admit, I now want to go and find some books on the Golden Era of Piracy and the pirates who ruled the seas at that time.
Things that I wished had been developed a bit more:
- While I liked the friendship between Anne and Mary, I wished there had been more quiet moments between the two women to really showcase and develop the friendship. Parts of it felt a bit rushed
- My one quibble with the before they became pirates sections is that Anne’s section is a lot shorter than Mary’s – I wished Anne’s had been a bit longer, just because I was curious about how and why she ended up marrying James Bonny
- I also had a slight issue with the pacing – the first and last sections of the book were pretty fast paced, but the middle did drag a bit
On the whole, I’m very much on the fence with this one and I do wonder if it is one that I would get more out of after doing some background reading into the historical context. In terms of pushing myself out of my comfort reading zone, I would say that this was a good choice and I did enjoy elements of this.