While the weather hasn’t been that great for sailing, I thought I’d settle in and re-visit an old favourite (a very old favourite), Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
I discovered this edition in ALDI, late last year. A new cover design, but the same great story. Yes, the language is a little archaic, but that I think just adds to the storytelling. Afterall, it all took place over two hundred years ago, in the ‘golden age’ of piracy.
From the very beginning, the story draws the reader in, with mysterious characters of dubious intent, an old treasure map (who doesn’t get excited by that?), and a young hero, Jim Hawkins, trying to find his place in the world. Vivid descriptions of the Caribbean islands run parallel to the suspenseful tale of secrets, loyalty and betrayal, with Long John Silver, the chief antagonist. Then there’s the old song, “Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest, Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum…” But what does that mean?
Well, I was fortunate enough to visit the British Virgin Islands many years ago and sailed past Dead Chest island. Not much more than a rock, and similar in shape to a man’s chest, it is rumoured to be the inspiration for the song and story. There were no dead men, from what we could see, and any treasure must surely have disappeared long ago, but the islands are steeped in historical notions of bold adventurers and marauding pirates. And surely, somewhere there must be a cache, still hidden?. An old worn chest full of tarnished gold and jewels…
Anyway, an entertaining plot, keeping this reader enthralled for many hours.
A great read for all armchair sailors and would be pirates (the old-fashioned, respectable sort, of course).