The House of Windjammer

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Cover of The House of Windjammer

Author: V.A. Richardson

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published in: 2003

Age Range: Young Teens+

Period: 17th C

Setting: Amsterdam

Genres:  AdventureHistorical


  • Adam Windjammer becomes head of his family, a long-established well-to-do merchant family after his father dies upon hearing of the disaster which has struck their fleet.
  • Augustus Windjammer is Adam's uncle, a weak and greedy man who serves his own ends more than the family's.
  • Gerrit a loyal family servant who risks all he has to try to recover the family's fortune.
  • Hugo van Helsen is a hard-nosed banker to whom the family owes money, and to whose daughter Jade Adam is attracted.


The Windjammer family business is ruined when their fleet of merchant ships is destroyed, leaving them at the mercy of the bankers and unable to fulfil their obligations to their employees. As Hercules Windjammer dies from the shock of the disaster, Adam becomes head of the family at the age of 15 and must face up to the greater and greater difficulties which face the business and consequently the family's well-being, including his mother and young twin sisters.


General: A well-paced story with a cast of fleshed-out main characters and some good supporting ones, conveying a taste of what choices were open to a young man of fifteen who has to try to save his family from ruin. The historical detail is well-sketched without being overwhelming.

She shook her head sadly. “Do you think a man like Hugo van Helsen will leav anything for us when he has finished? Even after he has thrown us out on the streets we will be in debt to him for the rest of our lives.” For a moment the pain and fear showed clearly in her eyes. “What of your poor sisters then, Adam? Will they have to frow up in the gutter of the Jordaan? Will I have to watch them die of plague or canal fever?”

The truth toled over the Long Table like a bell.

“I said today,” she went on after a pause, “that I am a mother as well as a Winjammer. Perhaps that is why I am prepared to marry the man who has caused us so much hurt. It is the only way I know to protect my family. I am a woman. The merchants will not listen to me. But one day, God willing, they will listen to you.”

She let go of his hands and hugged him to her. “That is why I must marry for money, Adam,” she whispered close to his ear. “That is why I will do everything in my power to protect your inheritance.” She broke away from him and nodded, the determination reflected in her eyes again. “That is why I will do this thing.”

Saturday 10th January 2004