Skip to main content

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

The first time I had read Kidnapped was the abridged Ladybird version at my school library. Those books were most beautifully illustrated and one particular illustration caught my attention and has held me still - a startled young man at the edge of a stair-step which ended in the open air, illuminated by a flash of lightning. I had pretty much decided then that I would read the whole book someday. A little over a decade later, I have fulfilled my promise ! And besides the vanity, I am genuinely glad to have read the full book, though even the abridged one had failed to dampen the high-octane spirit of the story. 

The title is a bit of a giveaway for the first part of the book, though soon, the story takes the form of a cat-and-mouse game, albeit dated three centuries ago. The first part of the book covers the origin of the travails - the kidnapping, to be precise, and the settings shift on a ship. Through a turn of events, David Balfour - the protagonist - finds himself side-by-side with a wanted man, escaping the law, very often extremely narrowly, while finding a way back. David is an honest, clever lad, with a very sturdy conscience and latent resilience, both physical and mental, though there are times when the schoolboy in him surfaces. Alan Breck (who, by the by, was pretty much a real and eminent figure in the mid-1700s) is a perfect companion for the dire conditions that David found himself in, and through immense troubles, the two of them made safely out of hostile lands. 

This being a classic, I did have to force myself to keep reading in some parts, especially when the duo was sneaking through the endless 'heather' and 'rocks'. It did tend to get a bit tedious. The best parts of the books are the first fourteen chapters, which take place aboard a ship, and the last two chapters, where things get tied up. That leaves a disconcerting fourteen more chapters in between, which do not exactly make you hold your breath. But then classics are not meant to be Hardy Boys stories. The best part about the story was the sharp language. The conversations were charmingly witty. There was also a profusion of characters, besides the central figures of David and Breck. The author dwelt on each one long enough to give a fleeting impression of each before moving on to the next character, so that all in all, it was one long, eventful travelogue. The plot is anyway given to the scope of twists and turns, and the author employs enough craftiness to make you smirk, right upto the end. 

On a personal front, I enjoyed the bond that developed between David and Breck; the kind that is forged in fire. Breck's character is that of the simple-hearted, sturdy men who recognise and value the good in man - whether friend or foe, while David is steeped in manners and conscience, which perfectly balanced the good-natured brashness of Breck. A little digging into the story brought out an interesting fact: at Corstorphine road in the city of Edinburgh, the Scottish sculptor Alexander Stoddart erected a statue of David Balfour and Alan Breck in 2004, in memory of the author R.L. Stevenson. The statue is placed at the Western Corner, where the two friends parted at the end of the book. 

I did not find anything thought-provoking in the book, but there was a good template offered about men of different dispositions and what to expect of them. At the end of the day, Kidnapped lived up to my expectations born way back !

Images courtesy Wikipedia,


Popular posts from this blog

Top 10 books to read when you are depressed

Books are handy weapons to stave off blues - be it the dregs of the Sunday evening or a nasty bout of flu. When you are depressed, it takes herculean efforts to shake off the feeling. And I'm not even talking about the more severe, clinical form of depression. I can't get myself to pour myself a glass of water the day after Diwali; on Fridays on the other hand, I am the epitome of eternal sunshine. For such moody, dull days, these top 10 books are the surest way to dust a little sparkle in your life.
1) Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog): This is Jerome K. Jerome at his absolute best. It was published some 130 years back and is still capable of eliciting raucous laughter. It is the honest journal of three young, bumbling flatmates and their dog on a river cruise. Look out for some meandering, pedantic pages, but they offer some relief from the relentless humour. 
2) James Herriot'sDog Stories: If you love animals (and dogs, in particular), this is the ultimate…

List#1 The Top Ten Authors I've Read The Most Books From

So I stumbled across this blog The Broke and the Bookish quite by chance (actually I was going through another brilliant blog Fourth Street Review, which led me to TBB). They have an interesting section for Top Tens, and this time it was The Top Ten Authors I've Read The Most Books From. I'm not sure if I can name ten, but let's see here...

Alistair MacLean: Give me a warm-hearted, yet cold-demeanoured, taciturn, multifaceted gentleman, who is also a juggler with words, and a plot set in a crippled ship in hostile waters or a ice-floe or on ragged mountains, and the only other thing I'll ask for is a cup of tea to read it with.

James Herriot: I love animals. Enough said. No, but really, Herriot is the reason I took Library as my preferred choice of 'activity' at school.

John le Carre: God, its depressing to read a le Carre. But its right up there with MacLean. There's something hypnotic about his work and there have been phases when I've read nothing but …

I am currently reading...

The Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. This is proving to be a very empowering read, which I believe was the whole point of the book anyway. For those judge a book by its cover (which is also pretty badass), it really doesn't seem to even skirt the edges of feminism. At its crudest, it is a collection of stories and their analyses to help rediscover what it means to be a woman. If it sounds redundant, then it goes to show howo much we need this book. 
I must say, books of this kind are not up my alley. It feels too verbose (even by my standards) and the bluntness induced by my utter worldly view of things makes it really difficult for me to penetrate the exuberance of being a woman, as noted in the book. I am just three chapters down, so it wouldn't possibly be wise to quote a favourite right now, but La Loba seems very ethereal. The whole concept of some force (our own, presumably) that can join broken, littered pieces, is deeply appealing. 
Newspapers a…