As a fan of naval adventure fiction, I usually follow the Forester, Obrian, Kent novels of nautical derring-do in the Age of Sail. Thus the jacket blurb on this Higgins book attracted me. I was not disappointed. Briefly, the book involves the fates of passengers and crew of a 19th century three-masted barkentine as it tries to return German nationals from Brazil to the homeland as Germany faces certain defeat. It's a five-thousand mile journey to round the Shetlands to enter the Skageraak and head for home. The Atlantic is controlled by the British and American fleets. This danger, however, is not the main enemy, which is the sea and the weather. The amazing seamanship exercised just to hold the creaking 60-year old vessel together in the teeth of terrible storms may stretch credulity; however the nautical exploits are convincingly described and it's obvious that Higgins knows his naval details down to the way in which sails had to be reefed, masts lashed, hulls braced, etc. The passengers include an admirable collection of nuns who must abandon the order in Brazil due to the fact that Brazil has just become a formal ally of the United Nations effort to defeat the Nazi regime. The stifled romance between a wavering novitiate nun and a strongly etched member of the ship's crew is well drawn, not too maudlin and deftly handled. So too are the British and American characters on a remote island in the Hebrides, who are to become entangled in the fate of the imperiled _Deutschland_. Even the captured U-Boat commander Gericke avoids the usual black and white "German = Nazi" stereotyping.
I would have liked to see the subsequent fate of the surviving main characters brought to light. Any screenplay based on this novel (which is a natural for the cinema) should try to tie up these loose ends.