Saturday, December 29, 2012

Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson

I will begin the story of my adventures with a certain morning early in the month of June, the year of grace 1751, when I took the key for the last time out of the door of my father's house.

I read Treasure Island a while ago (perhaps I'll reread it again soon), and have been wanting to read Kidnapped for a long time. It's also an adventure story; David Balfour, an orphan, is cheated out of his inheritance by his uncle, who schemes to have him kidnapped and sold into slavery. The story is full of adventure, with a shipwreck, a dangerous journey across Scotland, intrigues, escapes, and fighting. Eventually justice triumphs.

I really liked the beginning of the story; then somehow, it got bogged down. A lot of the Scottish lingo was difficult to understand, though the Signet Classics edition I read kindly provided footnotes on the page. But more difficult to understand was the history. I didn't feel like doing research to find out what was happening in Scotland in 1751, but perhaps I should have. There were a lot of references to what was going on (I gather the British were oppressing the Scottish), and some background knowledge would have been very helpful. Also, David was a bit annoying. He's so horrified when he thinks that Alan shot one of the Campbells in cold blood, but he himself had shot some comparatively innocent sailors a week or so before. Talk about senseless morals. And apparently, the Campbells have done a lot of evil things (sorry, Mr. Campbell). Also, it was kind of stupid, because Allan says he hates "the Campbells", as if all men named Campbell are related to this one family. There is a Mr. Campbell in David's life who has helped him a lot, so...Also, the section where Alan and David are fleeing across Scotland is really tedious.

Nevertheless, Kidnapped is full of action, and is a so-so Robert Louis Stevenson novel, the second one I've read. I had some niggling complaints, but if you're looking for an adventure story and a "classic", this is a good book to read. Really, I still understood most of the novel, even if I didn't understand the specifics of what was going on. However, I doubt I'll be adding Kidnapped to my own collection anytime soon. That section was really boring. I would recommend checking this one out of the library first.

Read Kidnapped:
  • if you like Robert Louis Stevenson
  • if you like adventure
  • if you like books set (partly) at sea with pirates
  • if you like books set in Scotland
  • if you like historical fiction
232 pages.
Okay book, but it left me wanting more!


  1. I love the Puffin Classics covers. I would love to collect the classics I want to read.
    Footnotes have never worked for me. I tried once and it didn't go well. I couldn't get into the book. So I don't know about this one for me.
    I haven't read Treasure Island. That's one I really do want to read. Did you like it more and was it more clear?

    1. By Puffin do you mean Penguin? And yeah, I love them a lot too. See "My Love Affair with Penguin Classics":

      I read Treasure Island several years ago, but I remember liking it a lot. It didn't have so many history references that I didn't get.