The Outrageous Fortune of Abel Morgan

Written by Cynthia Jefferies
Review by Nicky Moxey

The book opens with Abel’s mother lying dead in childbirth. Half-mad with grief, his father Christopher takes what he believes is the baby’s corpse to an inn he’s bought to provide a home for his young family. To everyone’s surprise, the boy lives – but Christopher finds himself in conflict with the local smuggler chief, and young Abel is kidnapped…

Moving between 17th-century rustic Cornwall, the slave culture of Constantinople, and pirate-infested Jamaica, this is a rollicking tale in two parts. We follow the separate lives of both Christopher and Abel, both of whom are gripping, engaging characters, with plenty going on to entertain us. Beautifully set in the last years of the Stuarts, with descriptions redolent of the exotic and familiar locations, Cynthia Jeffries’ first adult novel shows all the skill in story-telling that has made her name in children’s literature. Particularly in the boy-to-adult journey of Abel she gives us a depth of character development and cracking pace that sucks the reader right in. It’s not until the very last page that Abel, by now a man at the height of his chosen career and with a son of his own, manages that last, unusual step to fully realised adulthood. I enjoyed this book very much, and am going to re-read it to see if I can spot the story-telling skills that make it so smooth. Thoroughly recommended.