The Secret Life of James Cook: A Novel

Author(s): Graeme Lay

Fiction - Historical

Novelist Graeme Lay re-imagines the peerless navigator James Cook's life up to, and including, his first circumnavigation of the world. A fictionalised account of the famous navigator's early life, The Secret Life of James Cook Cook's youthful ambitions, his early naval career, his marriage to Elizabeth and their family life. Drawing on his personal knowledge of the South Pacific and Australasia, novelist Graeme Lay recreates the peerless navigator's life up to, and including, his first circumnavigation of the world. In particular, Graeme examines the relationship between James and his equally remarkable wife, Elizabeth, the woman he married when he was 34 and she 21, and by whom he had six children, all born while he was away at sea. The Secret Life of James Cook also depicts the often-stormy relationship between the self-made English naval commander and the dashing, privileged naturalist Joseph Banks, who accompanied Cook on his first world voyage.

 The Secret Life of James Cook by Graeme Lay is an extremely readable fictionalized account of Captain Cook's early life, covering his family life, his marriage and naval career, to the end of his first circumnavigation of the world. Cook's relationships with his crew and with the naturalists and scientists on board are particularly well told, especially his stormy, class-ridden interactions with Joseph Banks. I began this book slightly reluctantly, wondering if the world needed yet another book about Cook, but was won over by the author's imaginative retelling. - Jan


Graeme Lay has deftly brought an historical figure to life in this totally enjoyable novel. It focuses on the period from Cook's apprenticeship as a grocer through to the end of his first Pacific voyage, and especially on his marriage and the sacrifices both he and his wife made for the betterment of his career. A thoroughly readable introduction to Cook. - Lucy


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‘It's extremely easy to read and, because it sticks closely to the factual framework of Cook's career, offers a more comfortable introduction to his remarkable life than any of the myriad biographies.’ - Your Weekend


A full-time writer, editor and reviewer, Graeme Lay has written prolifically, including short stories, young adult fiction and travel writing, and has won numerous awards. He has a deep interest in the islands of the South Pacific and Australasia.

General Fields

  • : 9781775540120
  • : HarperCollins Publishers New Zealand
  • : HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
  • : 0.442
  • : May 2013
  • : 234 mm x 153 mm
  • : New Zealand
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Graeme Lay
  • : Paperback
  • : May-13
  • : English
  • : 823.2
  • : very good
  • : 368