Robert Louis Stevenson
Kidnapped is another book that I missed reading as a child, mostly because chapters from it seemed to find their way into various English readers, and at some stage I must have decided that I had read the book. The effort to read the book from end to end was well worth it, the story was excellent for a rainy day on a holiday by the sea when it was not possible to venture out, but reading this book still gave the day a salty flavour of the sea. However prolific RL Stevenson was, this book like his others is filled with the breathless joy of storytelling, its a boy or girls own adventure, with kidnappings, a battle, a shipwreck, a race through the Highlands of Scotland, and, I get tired thinking of the nearly ceaseless action!
David Balfour, an orphan at 17 sets off to claim his inheritance, and to get rid of him, his suitably evil uncle arranges his kidnapping and selling into slavery in the Americas. On the voyage out from Scotland, they pick up a ship wrecked Alan, a refugee rebel, and David finds a patron, or a hero. The ship itself is wrecked, and David then commences a journey through the badlands of a Scotland still seething with resentments and tribal enmities. I couldn’t get my head around this, but no doubt someone with an interest in British history might know the details. It’s not really necessary for the story, which now becomes a journey to freedom, complete with chases, rescues and other delightful hardships and escapades. There are really only two main characters in this book, David and Alan, and a host of skilfully imagined and drawn supporting characters enrich the imagination, and bring the story to life.
There is a bit of Scottish in there, but the author helpfully provides notes on the page, so it is not too intrusive. Altogether, a delightful escape, and good holiday travel reading. I made up my mind, again, that I must visit Scotland. Many of the place names are familiar, because, they are the names of other places, and what is best, with the book, is that there are maps of the voyage and journey that make it more exciting for me at least. A great project would be to follow this map, as a sea voyage and a tramp, without murderous sea captains, shipwrecks and marauding Campbells, of course.