I first read this book in August of 2001, and again in December of 2006; and I can say, on my third reading, that this entry in the series of Aubrey-Maturin novels centered on the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars is still wonderful reading, which I enjoyed very thoroughly.
Captain Jack Aubrey and his dear friend, surgeon (and secret agent) Stephen Maturin are in Nova Scotia, where they and Diana Villiers ended up after their escape from Boston at the end of the previous book. Finding no letters from his wife Sophie, Aubrey throws himself into an amour he soon regrets, as the letters from Sophie had been misplaced. Aubrey, Maturin and Diana head back to England, pursued by Diana’s former lover Johnson, who is angry over the loss of Diana and of her great diamond, and who also blames Maturin for the loss of his personal papers (having to do with the American spy network).
The book takes us to Paris, to the Baltic (where a Catalan contingent, unaware of the true course of the war, is in charge of a major battery), and back to Paris again; and without giving away too much of the plot (as always, I hate spoilers with a white-hot hate, which is why I avoid movie trailers), this book shows us a great deal of sea-faring, and of Maturin’s deeper dealings in the secret service (a role that only Aubrey is aware of).
I have two other books I need to continue reading, not to mention a veritable flood of magazines that were waiting for us upon our return from our vacation; but in the fullness of time I will be reading (or re-reading, rather), the next book in the series.