Monday, 5 September 2011

Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

I’m pretty sure you don’t get more Classic than Treasure Island, I’m guessing that if we played some kind of Family Fortunes game where you asked 100 people to name as many Classics as they could in 1 minute, Treasure Island would come pretty high up the list.

And what better way to read this Classic than to do it on piece of modern technology?

Culture Friend let me know that there was a free Kindle App that you could download on to your Android phone and it comes with some Classics free of charge, Pride & Prejudice, Treasure Island and Aesop’s Fables. Done and done I say.*

So for anyone who, like me, didn’t really know what Treasure Island was about, here’s a brief synopsis that doesn’t give away the ending...

The story is narrated by Jim Hawkins, whose family own the inn to which ex-pirate Billy Bones rocks up one day. Turns out he’s in hiding from a load of other pirates because he has a map which shows the location of the treasure of Captain Flint, who is now dead.

Bones eventually dies and Jim gets hold of the map, taking it to Dr Livesey and Squire Trelawny who decide to organise a mission to go and find the treasure.

A crew is gathered together and the Hispaniola sets sail from Bristol to the Carribbean. One of the crew members is the cook Long John Silver – Jim overhears him planning to organise a mutiny which is going to take place when they arrive on the island.

From there on in we have to-ing and fro-ing and intrigue and changing loyalties as everyone races to find the treasure. But I won’t spoil the ending and tell you who, or even if they do, find the treasure.

This was kind of a tough one to read. It seemed to go through periods of being really exciting and I would avidly read through the pages like a mad woman, but then it would go through serious lulls where it felt stodgy and confusing and I didn’t really know what the hell was happening. It’s beyond me how this is a children’s book you know.

The language obviously doesn’t help things and at times I was left scratching my head, thinking “What the hell is he on about?!” And there are also a couple of plot details which require you to suspend your belief. For example, Billy Bones has warned Jim about a pirate with a wooden leg – upon meeting Long John Silver you’d think he’d put two and two together, but when he does meet him, despite having misgivings he decides that it couldn’t possibly be the same pirate. Yes because there are bound to have been more than one pirate with a wooden leg knocking about you moron.

And the ending is kind of weak. There is a serious case of let’s-tie-it-all-up-with-a-nice-bow going on here. But I think we should let him off that. Not entirely sure why but I’m going to.

This is a proper boy’s book though – if you could write a story that was just like this but updated a little, it would encourage boys to read in droves, I believe the word swashbuckling may be of use here.

I’m guessing there are important themes I should be picking up on here. Long John Silver is a tricksy little character with more faces than a dice – is he trustworthy? Is he likeable? There’s a whole discussion to be had about morality I think but you know me, I don’t have the brain power to do that here.

It’s not my favourite of the Classics that I’ve read but I’m glad I’ve done so.

Welcome to the ranks Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver.

*Just in case you were wondering it actually wasn’t that bad reading on my phone although there’s a glare issue that you wouldn’t get with a real life Kindle. But you can change the size of text, change the font, and change the background colour to find something that suits you. You can bookmark pages so you don’t lose your place and there’s a handy little bar at the bottom which lets you know exactly how far you are through the book. In short – I like it! But I’m very unlikely to purchase actual real-life books for it, there are far too many real life ones to be read!


  1. You might be on to something here as Pirates still go down well with my two. xx

  2. My husband is reading this on his Kindle at the moment. He's all for free books! x

  3. I don't think I've ever actually read this. The shame of it! I always twin it up in my mind with Lorna Doone. That's very good but, as with this, very different from what you'd class as a children's book nowadays.

  4. I've always thought of Treaure Island as a 'boy' book (just how un-PC can you get...) so have never read it. But I have all sorts of gaps in my reading list (and I was an English graduate - the shame), so it's not just sexism. It's sloth. (Love your idea of the Tardis, btw...). C.x

  5. Well there you go - all I needed to know about Treasure Island. Not sure if I'll read it but enjoyed your review none the less - esp the bit about the wooden leg! :) xxx

  6. Just wanted to say I enjoy / am envious of your book reviews in equal measure! I've just been lamenting the fact that whenever I review a book or film it generally consists of "it was very good" or "it wasn't very good". You are inspiring me to put a bit more thought into my, um, thoughts! Looking forwards to the next review :-) xx

  7. Can't say I've ever felt the urge to read Treasure Island and I still don't want to after your review! You're doing brill with the classics though, you must be ahead of yourself at this stage?

  8. Do you know, I've never read this!!! I bought a sequel that someone else wrote to it in recent years (signed and on my shelf) but not read it! I must!


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