The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara is a clever and romantic novel that tells the true story of a girl who disguised herself as a boy to sail with the infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Calico Jack. The book is set in the 18th century and follows the life of Mary Reade, a young woman who is forced to live as a man in order to escape her troubled past.
One of the strengths of this book is its ability to transport readers back in time. McNamara does an excellent job of capturing the sights, sounds, and smells of life on board a pirate ship. Her descriptions are vivid and immersive, making it easy for readers to imagine themselves right alongside Mary as she navigates the treacherous waters of pirate life.
Another positive aspect of The Unbinding of Mary Reade is its portrayal of strong female characters. Mary is a complex and multi-dimensional protagonist who defies gender norms and societal expectations at every turn. She is joined by other fierce women, including Anne Bonny who challenges traditional notions of femininity and proves that women are just as capable as men when it comes to piracy.
However, one critique I have about this book is that at times it can feel slow-paced. While McNamara’s attention to detail adds depth to the story, there are moments where it feels like not much is happening. This may make it difficult for some readers to stay engaged throughout the entire book. And call me biased, but I would like to have seen a few more ‘piratey’ things – a bit of buried treasure and a few sword fights wouldn’t go amiss!
Overall, The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara is an enjoyable read that offers an intriguing glimpse into the world of piracy through the eyes of a strong female protagonist. While it may not be for everyone due to its slower pace, those who enjoy historical fiction or stories about unconventional heroines will find much to love in this book.