WARNING: If you don't already know the plot-line of this book and have any intention of reading it, I have included spoilers in this review!
"I came to myself in darkness, in great pain, bound hand and foot, and deafened by many unfamiliar noises. There sounded in my ears a roaring of water as of a huge mill-dam, the thrashing of heavy sprays, the thundering of the sails, and the shrill cries of seamen. "
-Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped
When Aaron and I were little, Mom would sit us down on our old plaid couch every morning before breakfast and read books aloud to us. She read King Solomon’s Mines, Tom Sawyer, The Lord of the Rings, A Christmas Carol, the Laura Ingalls books, Trumpet of the Swan, Around the World in 80 Days, biographies of famous Americans, and of course, that classic story of a young boy disinherited by his Uncle and foisted upon depraved slave traders bound for the New World.
I had forgotten all but the barest bones of the story Kidnapped, (the full title of which is Kidnapped: Being Memoirs of the Adventures of David Balfour in the Year 1751: How he was Kidnapped and Cast away; his Sufferings in a Desert Isle; his Journey in the Wild Highlands; his acquaintance with Alan Breck Stewart and other notorious Highland Jacobites; with all that he Suffered at the hands of his Uncle, Ebenezer Balfour of Shaws, falsely so-called: Written by Himself and now set forth by Robert Louis Stevenson). When I began listening to it again, I wondered if it would just be a rough-and-tumble boys’ story with little real interest. I should have trusted one of the greatest authors of his day to spin a good yarn.
This book was really made to be read aloud. My audiobook’s narrator actually had a Scottish accent, and it was great to hear all of the names and places spoken as they should be!
Well, the full title of the book pretty much gives the plot-line away, but I will say that one of the great things about Kidnapped was that it was set against a real, historical backdrop: Scotland in the days of the Jacobite Risings (read more on that here). These were attempts to restore the Stuart Kings to the thrones of Scotland and England. In the book, our young hero actually meets a real historical figure, Alan Breck Stuart. Alan is a swashbuckling patriot who ends up being wanted for murder, and with him, David Balfour.
It really was one of those books I didn’t want to put down (or press the stop button, rather). There was action, intrigue, surprise, humorous passages, well-developed characters (I especially appreciated the writing of the protagonist).
I highly recommend this book to those of you who are fascinated with history, classics, Scotland, the sea, or just a really good book that has held its popularity for over 100 years!