Sunday, 12 October 2008
Philip Marsden The Main Gages
This book is set in Cornwall in the 1930s. It has a protagonist, Jack, who comes to the sea as an adult and grows in his knowledge of it as the book progresses. The antagonist is the sea and this is painted richly from first hand knowledge by the author but supplemented by extensive research. There is an artistic sub plot with echoes for me from DH Lawrence who was in Cornwall at about the same time. The development of tourism brings out an interest of mine in seeing who did well in the interwar years. The inciting incident is the rushed repair of a ship for trips for hotel guests; the antagonist become the demon money personified by Bryant the industrialist from Birmingham. The crisis is when the fuel cap is left off allowing water into the engine. The wreck which follows is told in what I would term reportage. The surprise comes that the disaster is not of this ship which is saved but rather the life boat which does the saving. The wreck scenes are pages turners, so much so that there was a temptation to skip some of the sub plot passages which intervened.