Kidnapped – a review

A rugged land to cross on foot ... and remain out of sight
A rugged land to cross on foot … and remain out of sight

 Having recently read ‘Treasure Island’ again, I was already enjoying the wonderful language and style of Robert Louis Stevenson  as I started into the story. It was like stepping into an old pair of training shoes. Within a few sentences, I was comfortable.

‘Kidnapped’, is set in18th century Scotland, in the period following the Jacobite Risings. It is a tale of deceit, courage, loyalty, hardship, friendship, patriotism, and terrorism. Although the story gets underway with a kidnapping, at its core, this is a tale of human relationships, and how they can be affected by a variety of outside influences.

David Balfour, is a young man from a poor background. He finds himself alone in the world, following the death of his father; his mother previously having passed away. David takes to the road, to visit his Uncle Ebenezer, who will perchance help the teenager to make a life. The King of England’s forces have all but taken over in Scotland, and David’s family are loyal to their new masters.

Within days of leaving the parental home, David finds himself under no illusions at to where his future lies; but it is not as he had imagined. He watches his hopes and ambitions disappear, as he sales from Scotland’s east coast with a crew of misfits; not least of which is the ship’s Captain.

Fate deals several blows to David Balfour, and in each he finds options, but he must be sure to steer his own course. Survival becomes his watchword. On the seagoing voyage, due to a mishap, David is introduced to Allan Breck Stewart, a Scottish freedom fighter, fiercely opposed to the English invasion.

David Balfour finds himself without passage on a ship, with only a wanted criminal as an ally. He must decide if he should choose to accept that situation. Between him and his original start point is a country divided; between loyal clans, and patrolling English soldiers. After all that has happened in a short time, David must decide if he should he try to get back home.

It’s no small wonder that this story has been made into movies and TV series. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good yarn, with many a twist and turn.          

Treasure Island – a review

Treasure Island Cottage - Braemar
Treasure Island Cottage – Braemar

    If you’re wondering why this review is supported by the picture of an old building, it’s quite simple. The picture shows ‘Treasure Island Cottage’, which is situated in the tiny, but beautiful village of Braemar amidst the Scottish Highlands. I had the good fortune to rent the cottage for a week in October 2013. On the front of the building is a plaque, assuring the visitor that the great Robert Louis Stevenson wrote part of the book whilst he lived there.  

I first read Treasure Island away back in … 1966,the Football World Cup year when England won the tournament. I was 14 then, and wasn’t interested in English football, which is just as well, because my father would have disowned me. I digress.

If the task of the writer is to suspend belief, and whisk the reader to some other place and time, then RLS has succeeded with this timeless tale of adventure, mutiny, treasure hunting, and summary justice.

Did I read this book again at the age of 60 to see if I could learn anything to aid my writing? No, I read it quite simply, because I remembered I enjoyed it for the escapism and pure entertainment it gave me as a teenager. It provided those same things for me all over again.

The characters are well-drawn, and come to life as the story unfolds. The twists and turns are as good as any modern author could produce, and even if there is no intention to learn anything; I think all writers could learn from reading it – as adults.

There is no problem with the dialect, because the way the characters express themselves becomes part-and-parcel of bringing the tale to life. Sufficient imagery is provided to have the reader believe they are observing the events, but nothing over the top.

It’s a wonderful tale which I would recommend to any who have yet to read it. As much as I tried to make the pleasure of it last, I read it in two days.

I have a yearning now to read ‘Kidnapped’, which I last read all those years ago when I went through my first phase of admiration for Robert Louis Stevenson‘s work.