The Worst Journey In The World is a World War Two historical novel and features a man who spent many of his war years at sea.
Narrated by telegraphist George Martin, it follows his role on a ship which was part of a naval escort. His first experience took place in the Mediterranean, as escort for Merchant boats going to Malta. After Russia joined the war in 1941, George and the crew of HMS Virtuous were sent to escort ships taking supplies to Murmansk, a port in north-west Russia. On this journey they faced enemy aircraft, U-boats, severe cold and the tempestuous Arctic seas.
This book immediately appealed to me when I saw it reviewed on another book blog. I enjoy books set in this era, and the severity of the Arctic conditions kept me interested. HMS Virtuous was fitted with equipment to hunt U-boats and this made me think of The Hunt For Red October. There’s something about a deadly enemy who can lurk beneath the sea that has me in fight or flight mode. I easily empathised with George’s feelings of uneasiness when he looked out over the vast ocean.
The writing style is factual rather than flowing with lyrical descriptions and there are gruesome details which may not appeal to some readers. Overall I thought this was a little bit different to other books in this popular genre and I enjoyed the journey.
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When George Martin joins the crew of the Royal Navy frigate, HMS Virtuous, he is keen to start his new life at sea, but after trips escorting relief cargoes to the stricken island of Malta, he soon realises that life on a warship is anything but easy. After the invasion of the Soviet Union by German forces in 1941, George finds himself on the Virtuous’s most perilous journey yet, as it forms part of a convoy heading to Russia. Hunted by Nazi U-boats, surface ships and the Luftwaffe, the crew must endure its greatest foe – the harsh Arctic weather. With temperatures dropping to minus 30 degrees Centigrade and violent storms threatening to sink the ship, George endures the harsh reality of war, whilst at the same time pondering his uneasy relationship with the mysterious Glenda, the girl he has left behind.