While THE PIRATE’S DAUGHTER is a work of fiction, Errol
Flynn, the central character around which the story is built, was
In 1946, while sailing the Caribbean aboard his yacht Zaca, a
hurricane forces Flynn to dock in Jamaica. The movie star, who is
originally from the island of Tasmania, immediately feels at home.
He is captivated by Jamaica’s natural beauty and its
multi-cultured and multi-colored residents.
Known worldwide for his handsome “swashbuckling hero”
portrayal in movies like Captain Blood, Flynn is becoming
even more notorious for his hard drinking and womanizing. His
adulterous affairs and dalliances with increasingly younger women
--- some of them barely out of their early teens --- garner Flynn
legal troubles, including statutory rape charges, public outcry and
notoriety in the press.
With his private life and media image crashing around him, Flynn
seizes the opportunity to find a safe haven in Jamaica, where he
hopes to restore himself, revive his career and repair his
Shortly after his arrival, he meets Eli Joseph, a Lebanese
immigrant working as a justice of the peace and taxi driver. That
encounter marks the beginning of a business partnership and
Thirteen-year-old Ida is the daughter of Eli and his common-law
wife Esme. While Ida’s mother is a stout black woman, whose
mixed background is African and Chinese, Ida favors her father. Her
long black hair and dark eyebrows draw attention to her large,
expressive eyes. Her good looks get her noticed by local boys ---
and the island’s famous movie star.
Flynn finds the teenager charming. They share a love of horseback
riding. He buys her a horse and nicknames it
“Ida-Rider,” but steers clear of any romantic
involvement. He already has one soon-to-be-ex-wife living in
California and plans to marry another Hollywood starlet once his
divorce is final.
After Flynn buys Navy Island, which centuries earlier had been
visited by Captain Bligh, he has a mansion built and swimming pool
dug. Flynn becomes a semi-permanent resident and throws lavish
parties. Visitors to his mansion include Hollywood stars,
world-famous authors and the idle rich.
During his movie-making absences, Ida keeps in touch through
letters. She falls in love with him and believes he is in love with
her, until he returns to Jamaica with Paulette, his new wife.
When Ida is 15, Flynn invites her to one of his parties. The next
morning, while the other guests are passed out or still sleeping,
he and Ida go horseback riding. That’s when their affair
Before long Ida becomes pregnant. As soon as Flynn finds out about
her pregnancy, he hastily departs for London. He leaves it up to
his good friend, Baron Karl von Ausberg, to say goodbye.
Months later Ida gives birth to a baby girl. May is fair-skinned,
with eyes like her famous father’s. Family circumstances as a
result of death and illness cause Ida to leave May behind and head
for New York, but she promises to return for her daughter.
May is left in the care of a family friend. Growing up, people
taunt May for being so light-skinned, and they gossip about her
famous father, whom she meets only once. She suffers through a
childhood of poverty and abandonment, wondering if her mother will
ever return. But above all, May is a survivor.
The sensual descriptions, engaging dialect and captivating
characters make THE PIRATE’S DAUGHTER a book that will stay
with me. It is an elegantly written saga of love and loss, betrayal
and survival, but most of all it is a glimpse at the fragile nature
of the human heart.
Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt (firstname.lastname@example.org) on January 18, 2011
The Pirate’s Daughter