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Posted September 7, 2012
Fun and Exciting
Silver: Return to Treasure Island by Andrew Motion is the novel which continues the adventures of the son of Jim Hawkins, protagonist of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Stevenson’s book was originally published in 1883 and is considered a classic which has influenced many authors, readers and adventure seekers alike.
Jim Hawkins the son grew up in “an atmosphere stained by melancholy” after his mother’s death. His father used his proceeds from the treasure he found 30 years earlier to start an inn/tavern appropriately named The Hispaniola. One day the enchanting Natalie, daughter of his father’s nemesis/friend Long John Silver, rows up to the inn asking young Jim to steal his father’s treasure map. Together they plan to get the rest of the treasure their father’s left behind.
Long John Silver takes care of all the preparations, however being ill and blind he leaves Natalie (disguised a boy named Nat) to represent his interests and Jim representing his father’s. Together with the crew they sail the Silver Nightingale to Treasure Island only to find that the villains their father’s marooned are still alive and prospering with a wrecked slave ship.
Visiting the library one afternoon with my children, my eyes scanned upon the shelf where the librarians earnestly display their newly arrived acquisitions when they caught a glimpse of Silver: Return to Treasure Island by Andrew Motion (Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009). I could hardly believe the audacity, the gull, some might say the chutzpah, of attempting to recreate the magic I remember so fondly from my childhood.
How dare he? Of course I had to pick it up.
A year ago I re-read Treasure Island and to my delight I enjoyed it tremendously as an adult. The magic and adventure were all there, even though some realizations hit me (the star of the story is the iconic Long John Silver, not Jim Hawkins) as well as other enlightenments such as the ambiguous immoralities which are lost on an 8 year old boy.
While Treasure Island was a story for boys, about boys, Silver has a touch of romance when Motion weaves a female into the cast (the daughter of Long John Silver, tomboyish if there ever was one). However, this is still a book about boys and Motion kept it for boys but with an interest to girls as well.
The protagonist, Jim Hawkins the son, gains insights into the evil side of humans, much like his father. Young Jim watches people deteriorate into monsters as well as the heroic side of human nature. He watches people sacrifice themselves without understanding why, but gaining that understanding at the end of the novel, much as his father did before him.
The book is flawless for the first 50 pages or so, fabulous details with a wink and smile towards the original (The Hispan
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