SCOTT SIMON, host: Of course, summer is here - and even if you're not traveling, you can with a great book. We're joined now by our friend Will Grozier, best-read man we know - London cabbie and enthusiast for reading. Joins us from the studios of the BBC in London to recommend some exciting summer reads. Will, glad to have you back.
WILL GROZIER: Thank you, Scott, and hi to you. Nice to hear your dulcet tones again.
SIMON: Nice of you to say that. Thank you, Will.
Will, so, you don't have to see the fourth installment of "Pirates of the Caribbean" to be transported this summer?
GROZIER: I think we are going to go to much more exotic places than "Pirates of the Caribbean." I've selected a few books that are going to take us overseas and way back.
SIMON: Sure, please.
GROZIER: The first are the series of novels by Patrick O'Brian.
SIMON: Oh, I love those books.
SIMON: Great seafaring novels - "Master and Commander," I guess is certainly the first and what's been what's become known as the overall title.
GROZIER: Yeah. They recently adapted "The Mauritius Command," serialized over three episodes on the BBC, and it was great to reacquaint myself with this genre because, in fact, any of the O'Brian books that have Captain Jack Aubrey and his sidekick Stephen Maturin as the protagonists are well worth reading, 'cause Patrick O'Brian was a naval historian and everything that he writes is pretty much on the money in terms of accuracy.
SIMON: I gather you have in your hands - or at least in your possession - a biography about another famous seaman that's been causing some talk.
GROZIER: Frank McLynns' "Captain Cook" seems to approach the subject from a slightly more sympathetic position than other previous biographers because Captain Cook has been vilified over the years as being the person that brought Western ways to Polynesia and the South Seas. But I took the opportunity to grab a copy because it seemed to me that this was a much more worthwhile approach, as Cook was an excellent seaman. And the biographical history has tended towards this vilification of his character, rather than his achievements as a seaman.
SIMON: What can you tell me about the "Oracle of Stamboul?"
GROZIER: It's a strangely compelling and weird tale, very well-written. The man has some writing credits to his name.
SIMON: This is Michael David Lucas, I guess is the author.
GROZIER: Michael David Lucas, yeah. It's the story of a young girl who is a servant and the story of her journey from humble beginnings in Constanta, which is in modern-day Romania, to Stamboul, of course, modern-day Istanbul, and very unexpected in its construction and certainly in its ending, which is inconclusive and yet it was utterly compelling, very light, very easy to read, enchanting. A perfect holiday novel.
SIMON: Of course, it's...
GROZIER: One that I picked up as I - literally, I was just leaving the flat this morning and I thought, what in the wide world can we add to the mix for holiday reading that takes you on an adventure? And here's a perfect example: "The Lost Lady of the Amazon." It's the story of Isabel Godin. It's a French scientific expedition in 1735 - note that, 1735. And they ended up across the other side in the Andes. And one of the expedition members married a local girl and he then went back to French Guinea and got stuck there because there was a coup or some kind of political intrigue that meant that he couldn't return. So, the book is the story of his wife's journey over many years to be reunited with her husband crossing the Amazon and the rainforest - the first woman to do so. So, that's the kind of book that grabs me.
SIMON: Is it in part because a lot of the characters you're talking about make journeys that most of us can never aspire to make, and almost would never aspire to make?
GROZIER: Yeah, exactly that. And we can only escape as far as the hotel. If we take these characters with us we can go a whole lot further.
SIMON: Will Grozier, a London cabbie and lover of fine literature. Thank you so much, Will.
GROZIER: Thank you once again, Scott. Great to talk to you again.
SIMON: And the titles that Will recommends for summer: Patrick O'Brian's "Master and Commander" series, Frank McGlynns' "Captain Cook: Master of the Seas," the "Oracle of Stamboul" by Michael David Lucas and Anthony Smith's "Lost Lady of the Amazon: the Story of Isabela Godin and Her Epic Journey." You can find the list on our website, NPR.org.
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