The Commodore, by Patrick O'Brian
I had quite a good time with this one. Some of the Maturin/Aubrey quips back and forth were especially good:
Aubrey: "I have always prided myself on a perfect freedom from jealousy."
Maturin [well-established as a short, balding, ill-kept little man]: "For a great while I prided myself on my transcendent beauty, on much the same grounds; or even better."
I suspect they lack something without the full context of the series, though. Like most of the books, it's made up of one anecdote after another, more a series of little stories that sometimes turn back to events from longer ago and sometimes do not. It is more like life than a novel. I liked this one very well, though.