With an amazing followup to his iconic Deirdre, the Wanderer, Jonnie Comet establishes a globe-girdling series about the life exploits of an eminently credible heroine.
Deirdre, the Oyster's Pearl (Surf City Source Media Group) manages to outdo Wanderer in all the best points, not the least of which is sheer sensual appeal. In this second volume of the series, the teenaged vagabond, recoiling from a lost love affair, descends into detrimental influences like drinking, drugs trafficking and a surprisingly charming (and funny) dominatrix called Shelly.
'If her experiences in Wanderer taught Deirdre how to open the door of opportunity,' says the author, 'the episodes of Pearl show how some opportunities ought not to be taken.' Too eager to move onwards towards a lifelong goal of seeing the British Virgin Islands, the heroine hitchhikes on a series of vessels sailing eastward through the Caribbean. Through her resourcefulness, resilience and innate courage, she shows her companions, herself and the reader what true heroism is made of.
Once again the author's knack for authenticity enhances the descriptions of tropical destinations, pre-9/11 travelling idiosyncrasies and especially sailing scenes. For over half the book Deirdre is the crewmate and captive of the egocentric Shelly, who has been transporting narcotics and dirty money about the Leeward Islands with impunity until she meets her match in an innocent and effervescent runaway.
Perhaps the most touching and discomforting feature of the story is the inappropriate relationship between Deirdre and Shelly. Twelve years apart, the two alternate between their own ages and each other's. Whilst the passive-aggressive Shelly is content to treat her indebted servant as an adult when it serves her ends, she also prefers that Deirdre be equal parts clueless and powerless. But she is frequently exasperated by their disparity: '...[S]ometimes you can be such a kid sometimes. I know I'll never be any kind of role model but I just feel like sometimes I know a little more about what's going on than you do.'
Deirdre, for her part, matures in wisdom and responsibility enough to know she has missed out on some part of having been young. Shelly is both too overbearing and too amoral to hold her respect, especially after Deirdre meets and quickly falls for an upper-class English boy at the romantic Baths of Virgin Gorda. When, as a bluff to snare Shelly's affection, she proposes becoming a prostitute, Shelly's response is only noncommittal. Deirdre complains about what she is helpless to amend: 'I could not help feeling like the girl in high school who expects more from her boyfriend than he's ever given her, till she realises he's not capable of it at all. The only difference was that my "boyfriend" was a 27-year-old lesbian dominatrix.'
Though it has its share of good times (and good humour) this relationship, like Shelly's freedom to engage in trafficking, cannot endure long. Where in Wanderer Deirdre's loss is due to a deep-seated need to love, in Pearl Shelly seems immune to any stirrings of the heart; and she is undone by her addiction to the narcotics trade itself. The coup de grace at the climax of Pearl is all Deirdre, a clever, spur-of-the-moment and irrevocable decision that resolves all issues by relying on equal measures of chance, flawed human nature and derring-do... and necessitates a continuation with the next installment.
Like its precursor, this is not a book easily put down. Surfer/ sailor/ musician/ philosopher/ author Comet enhances and extends his own series with this latest effort (to be followed by at least two more volumes) chronicling the tribulations of the modest, lovably imperfect Deirdre, who may well be one of modern literature's most engaging protagonists.
Deirdre, the Oyster's Pearl is now available at select bookshops, travel destinations and in KIndle e-text and paperback via Amazon.com.