About Me

Tollesbury, Essex, United Kingdom
I was born in the Summer of 1969 in Dagenham, just on the border of East London. School was largely unproductive but enjoyable, setting me up for something of a wayward but interesting life! On leaving school I had various jobs including putting up stalls at Romford Market, working in a record shop, putting up ceilings, gardening and road sweeping. After resigning from an insurance company to play in a band, I found myself unemployed for two years. Then finally I got back on my feet and I've been a psychiatric nurse since 1997. I wrote A Cleansing of Souls when I was 22 years old and followed it up with Tollesbury Time Forever almost twenty years later. I started writing The Bird That Nobody Sees in September 2011 and it was released in July 2012. In terms of writing, my heroes are Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck. I would also include Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits as literary influences. So that's me I guess - scruffy, happy and in love with literary fiction, music and life...

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

A Review of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

I was surprised to discover that Treasure Island was first published in May 1883. I had always thought it was from the same era as Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1719) and Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726). So as a novel it was post Charles Dickens and a contemporary of such novels as The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi and The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle. Yet in my mind Treasure Island has always been synonymous with the period of its subject matter - and having now read it, that view is loathe to change, despite me now knowing it was published just seventeen years before the dawn of the 20th Century. A sign of a fine book? I think so.

Treasure Island is written largely in the first person narrative from the perspective of young Jim Hawkins, a lad who lives with his parents in a remote coastal Inn. He recounts the adventures that befall him after a mysterious old sailor takes up residence at the Inn and who is subsequently tracked down by nefarious ne'er do wells leading to Jim and his mother having to flee. Jim joins a ship, The Hispaniola, in an optimistic search for Captain Flint's Treasure which is purportedly buried on a mysterious island far out to sea.

Robert Louis Stevenson uses a clever narrative devices in order to fill in the gaps in the tale that Jim Hawkins does not personally witness, ranging from a complete change of narrator for a short period (Dr Livesey) to other characters feeding back to Jim directly or indirectly what has occurred during his various absences. It works very well and leaves you wondering, while you are reading Jim's account, what is happening to the other characters in the story.

And in Long John Silver, the duplicitous Ship's Cook, surely we have one of the finest renderings of the modern day politician. This is where Treasure Island, for me, rises above just a plain old swashbuckling childrens yarn. Akin to my presumption about the period in which the book was published, so I had in my mind that the parrot toting one legged Silver was a pirate caricature, in much the same way that I believed (before I read the book) Captain Hook to be entirely unpleasant. Long John Silver is the original silver-tongued devil (wonderful Kris Kristofferson song by the way!) and uses his charisma to manipulate more or less everyone else aboard The Hispaniola. The fact that in a novel where the majority of characters are killed, maimed or traumatised, Long John Silver remains throughout the most trusted, the most feared and the most believable, well that is fine writing indeed. He is the Humphrey of Yes Minister, more than the violent tyrant I had expected to encounter.

So I embarked upon Treasure Island expecting nothing more than a light bedtime read. Yet what I got was a fantastic study of manipulation and survival. I think I'm beginning to see why certain books are termed 'classics.' For me, Treasure Island certainly is that.

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