The Making of the Novelist, 1914-1949
W. W. Norton & Company, Hardcover, 9780393061307, 512pp.
Publication Date: September 17, 2005
List Price: $29.95*
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This is the story of Patrick O'Brian's life up to his decision to move to Collioure in the south of France. His childhood; his precocious writing success; his sailing experiences; and the truth behind his first marriage, divorce, and name change are set forth with candor and sympathy. Along the way Nikolai Tolstoy reveals the seeds of inspiration that would one day lead to comparisons to Jane Austen and even Homer. Tolstoy was O'Brian's stepson, and their acquaintance lasted forty-five years. He stayed with his mother and O'Brian at their French home and was a frequent correspondent with the reclusive author, discovering facets of his character and creative genius that were hidden from others. Over the years he accumulated a vast collection of the author's papers, correspondence, and notebooks, many of which are reproduced here. On the basis of this trove of original material, Tolstoy has written the definitive biography that O'Brian and his admirers deserve.