“Fiddlers and Whores”
By Author; James Lowry, Presented By; John Millyard
Publisher: Chatham Publishing, London England, www.chathampublishing.com,
“Fiddlers and Whores”, what a find!
A wonderful treasure trove of personal observations and cultural anecdotes is contained in “Fiddlers and Whores”. This book is the original journal of an Irish surgeon “Dr. James Lowry”, during his service years 1797 to 1804 in the British Royal Navy.
The reader journeys along with Dr. Lowry to explore far away lands such as, Spain, Africa, Italy Turkey and Israel. The reader experiences first hand strange lands with strange people and distasteful customs that Lowry eventually embraces. We live the battles and spoils of war and piracy. We experience being a gentlemen’s’ prisoner of war, a tour with Lord Nelson and of being ship wrecked, through the eyes of Dr. Lowry.
Lowry includes his anecdotal personal perspectives on war and foreign cultures. I concur with Millyard’s introductory comments regarding Lowry’s many surprising observations, such as, expressing shock and distaste of various cultures and peoples that he encounters but none in regards to sea faring diseases such as scurvy nor of the harsh conditions of sea life of that time period. Lowry also provides variations on specific events and war piracy that at times seems to contradict historical documentation by the ship’s Captains.
Millyard first became aware of Lowry’s journal 1990 while interviewing the late Dorothy Stewart, (descendent of Lowry) for another research project. Mrs. Stewart showed Millyard Lowry’s original journal, some 250 handwritten pages accompanied with Dr. Lowry’s medical bag and equipment. Lowry had written the memoir and sent it to his brother the Rev. Jn Lowry in 1807, as correspondence.
At times, the idiosyncrynistic writing style of Dr. Lowry is a challenge to follow but overall, writer John Millyard, has presented Lowry’s journal, ‘Fiddlers and Whores’ as a candid snapshot of the time. A fascinating read! I highly recommend this book.
Review by; Jan Porter
Jan Porter ~ Author www.inspiredsoulworks.com