The Hartlepool Monkey
The legend of the Hartlepool Monkey is well known in the North East of England in that in the early 19th century, during the Napoleonic Wars a monkey, dressed in French naval uniform, is washed up on the beach at Hartlepool and is taken for a French spy. Sean Longley’s novel is wrapped around this legend and the circumstances that lead to the animal being on that particular beach.
Dr Simon Legris is a French physician living in Paris when he is caught up in the aftermath of a carriage accident and as a result becomes personal physician to the Duc Ladurie de Bretagne. He is sent on an expedition to Africa and returns with a pet monkey whom he names Jacques. Back in Paris the French Revolution breaks out and Jacques becomes involved in a plot involving Claudette, a prostitute whom Simon knew well in his early days in the city.
Set during the Napoleonic Wars and the French Revolution, the tale is well told with a style of writing fitting the era in which the events happened.