On a Making Tide chronicles the fascinating early years of Horatio Nelson and Emma Lyon. Both determined to rise from obscurity, they set about making their ways through the world with corresponding recklessness and precocious ambition. Nelson enters the Royal Navy at the ae of twelve and is made a post captain at the age of 20 - his reputation as a daring yet benevolent officer secured in the American War of Independence.
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It's 1784, and Nelson is sent to the Caribbean to enforce the hated Navigation Acts. While there, he marries Franny Nisbet. Ordered next to the Mediterranean, he engages in a string of spectacular naval battles. The ravages of war take their physical toll on Nelson, even as he gains the fame and honour he craves. At the same time, Emma, mistress of Charles Greville, sits as an artist's model....
1799: Having evacuated the King and Queen of Naples ahead of Napoleon's advancing army, Nelson must now await developments in Sicily. In the meantime, he and Emma savour their passionate affair, and when Nelson travels back to Britain with the Hamiltons, he finds he is the toast of Europe. To the British elite, however, Nelson is a dangerous upstart, and his love for Emma is his weakness. With rising resentment, Nelson and Emma are forced to keep up appearances. As the war with Napoleon drags on, Nelson engages the Danish fleet at Copenhagen with stunning results.