The British Empire Library

Divertimenti, or Pleasure Abounding for the Idle Hour

by S. Gorton Green

Courtesy of OSPA

Review by I.A.
A never-failing benign Providence guides Mr. Gorton Green's hero, young Charles Ashton - son of a Worcestershire farmer - in his search for other lands and civilisations. Having landed in South Africa before the age of 20, he finds himself, because of a fortuitous meeting with the son of a Boer farmer, working on a huge Afrikaner sheep farm, where he spends four happy years, at one with the people and animals he met there. Eventually, seeking other experiences and qualifications for a career other than farming, he sets off for Mombasa and it is the lucky contacts made there that launch him on a most successful and satisfying career at sea. Later he becomes a partner in a rubber plantation in Malaya, again by chance, but he is able to pursue at the same time a second entrepreneurial career trading in various precious commodities up and down the Strait of Malacca. The island of Penang's way of life appears ideal to him and sailing the Indian Ocean the most enjoyable and fascinating occupation a man could experience. The 'burial' of his ageing ketch 'Marie' is described with sensitivity and sadness.

Towards the end of his career, Charles Ashton revisits his birthplace but, disillusioned by the decline in standards that he sees all around him, he decides to return to end his days in the land flowers. South Africa. So it is in Worcester, Cape Province that he finally settles, peacefully re-living in memory his chequered life - and not the Worcester of his native land.

Seascapes, landscapes and wild life are all effectively depicted in this book which, as the author says, provides pleasant diversion for the odd 'idle hour'. Readers will assuredly turn to his account of life aboard the 'Mary Kirle' on the voyage to Singapore and his vivid descriptions of the sea in all its moods (Div.9) for at least a second reading.

British Empire Book
S. Gorton Green
Regency Press


Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames

by Stephen Luscombe