The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye
February 2, 2024

Book Review

The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye

The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye explores the life of a legendary mulatto, queer female pirate who rose from adversity to achieve freedom from the oppressive hands of men.

In 1655, Santo Domingo, at the age of eleven, Jacquotte began her apprenticeship on numerous ships as a shipwright. Following the death of her mentor, she took over the running of the business.

She lived with her father and brother, having lost her mother. An unspoken agreement existed between her and her father: he had no money for her dowry, which suited her perfectly as she had no desire to be subservient to a husband. A portion of her earnings was given to her father for “upkeep,” as he termed it, and this arrangement allowed her to carve out a semblance of freedom for herself.

Her life takes a turn when she stumbles upon a letter concerning her father’s past, prompting her to question what secrets he might be hiding. Around the same time, she is summoned by the Governor, who asks her to translate a letter, recognizing the handwriting as her father’s. She feigns inability to translate it.

Caught in a web of treason at the Governor’s house, she escapes to the sea, where she finds herself working under the command of the notorious Captain Blackhand. Her resilience shines through as she quickly adapts and her leadership skills emerge during a naval battle, making her stand out as a natural leader.

Upon her return to Port Royal, other women, eager to escape their dismal lives on land where they were subservient to men, joined her crew, drawn by the harsh yet appealing life of freedom on the open waters.

The adventurous narrative begins on land, introducing Jacquotte and her initial ventures that propel her into the treacherous waters where her journey of exploration continues. The story includes dark scenes not suitable for the faint-hearted and intense moments that keep the reader on the edge of their seat.

While it is debated whether Jacquotte Delahaye is a historical figure or a legend born from folktales, what remains undeniable is her fascinating legacy as a pirate captain who rose from adversity. She not only made a name for herself but also created a space for women seeking autonomy over their lives.

This plot-driven story is a treasure trove for those who relish action and adventure narratives set against a historical backdrop, populated with a crew of captivating vagabonds.

The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye is available at:

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