The Missing Captain. "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" by Robert Holden. [review]
The perils of a certain kind of historical writing are painfully demonstrated in "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea", billed as 'the life of Australian whaling captain, William Chamberlain: a tale of abduction, adventure and murder'. The problems inherent in "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" arise from failures in both language and imagination. Holden has tried to put himself in Chamberlain's shoes and write from his point of view, but he has not made the imaginative leap necessary to write true historical fiction. Like many others before him, he has mistaken long words and convoluted sentences for genuine nineteenth-century prose. In the end, Holden lacks both the material to write a biography and the imagination to write an historical novel, and has fallen uncomfortably between two very high stools.