Children’s stories

Tales of the unexpected: The Complete Short Stories, by Patrick O’Brian, reviewed

The publishers of this handsome volume hint at high adventure – and period adventure at that. In the blot left by an antique quill pen swirls a breaking wave. Ah, the high seas! And here we are again with Aubrey and Maturin picking weevils out of ship’s biscuits and foiling Napoleon’s naval plans. So I had better warn readers that this isn’t really representative. The first story in the collection, ‘The Return’, is about a man returning to childhood haunts and fishing for trout. The second, ‘The Last Pool’, is different in that this time the fish are salmon (although the protagonist starts out looking for trout). Internal evidence suggests