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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Silver: Return to treasure Island" by Andrew Motion

This is the sequel to one of the best adventure yarns ever: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. As such it was always bound to disappoint.

Jim is the son of Jim Hawkins who keeps a pub on the north bank of the Thames estuary. One day, Natty, the daughter of Long John Silver, turns up, takes him to her father and persuades him to steal the map of Treasure Island from his father and to get on a boat organised by her father to find the treasure that was left behind, an enormous cache of bar silver. Which he agrees to do. He feels very guilty about betraying his father and stealing from him but he seems to feel no fear whatsoever in obeying the summons and getting on board a boat with no-one he knows crewed by Captain Beamish.

I found this stretched my credulity too far. It is difficult for a book to redeem itself when one cannot believe in the first act.

When they get to Treasure Island (Natty now disguised as ship's boy Nat which continued to distort credibility) they discover that it is now inhabited. Adventures follow.

When I fist read Treasure Island it gave me nightmares. The secret was the brilliant characters: the smooth talking pirate Long John Silver with his single leg and the ex-buccaneer Billy Bones with his drunken rendering of the Captain Flint pirate song: "Fifteen men on a dead man's chest; Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum." The foolish too-trusting Squire Trelawney and the shrewd Doctor Livesey. The mad maroon Ben Gunn and the superbly sinister Blind Pew. And the adventures! Cross and double cross. Never being sure who was your friend and who your enemy; your life being saved by the arch villain. The reality of a pirate leader's life: deliver the gold or be torn apart by your crew. The threats and the brutality.

There was menace in this book. There were characters. But there was no betrayal. Goodies were goodies and stayed goodies, baddies were likewise constant. In some places there was a whiff of political correctness. The descriptions were beautiful and young Jim is very taken up by the floras and fauna of the island, even when heading into peril on an island of menace. But it really didn't gel.

It ended with as clear a presumption of a sequel as I have ever met, outside those books where they give you the first chapter of the next book as a taster.

Disappointing. May 2015; 404 pages


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