So far this month I have read six books. That is perhaps too many for a single post.
The books are three I have reread, having located them on the bookshelves at home and three from the local library.
I shall review the ones I reread in this post and save the library books for next time.
These books make a set. In case you haven’t read them, two children in Sussex stumble upon a fairy ring on Midsummer’s Day, accidentally calling up the mischievous Puck from William Shakespeare’s play. On different occasions he introduces them to characters from the past, wiping their memories afterwards, lest adults think they are mad!
It was possibly the third time I had read these books. Reading them as a child I missed a great deal of the background and simply enjoyed them for their atmosphere and vocabulary. This time I was amazed by the links with some of the books I have read recently. I found the whole experience of rereading these two books fascinating.
Weland’s sword was mentioned in Puck of Pook’s Hill and in Edoardo Albert’s Edwin: High King of Britain. There is a Roman centurion in Puck of Pook’s Hill, which tied in with the book by Hunter Davies, which I read in October. The final story in Rewards and Fairies is set in the same period as Accession by Livi Michael. Also in Rewards and Fairies there was mention of people being brought for safety, because they were nonconformists, from the Low Countries to Romney Marsh in Kent, England. The Heretic by Henry Vyner-Brooks is about some of these people.
I am by no means a historian. In fact I failed my O-level in history. However, I do enjoy historical fiction. It is interesting to find the places where authors overlap in their treatment of the various periods.
The next book I reread was Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. This is another book I first read as a child. The dust cover is missing, but I can remember the picture in some detail! Again I must have read it more than once before. However, only the first part of the story had really stuck in my mind. It was like reading a book for the first time.
It is an adventure story with a historical setting. There is a lot of background information about the Scottish Highlands and Islands. The reason I read it was that the coach driver on the Isle of Mull (on our recent trip to Iona) had told us that we should read it. David Balfour travels through Mull in the story, which I read with a map of Scotland to hand, so that I could follow his route on the mainland as well. (For more of my pictures of Scotland and the Scottish Islands please consult the contents of Sue’s words and pictures.)
I was also struck by the information about Scottish culture. The language is not simple, being a sort of Lowland Scots dialect. Footnotes explain the most obscure words. Coincidentally I heard a trailer for a BBC broadcast about Kidnapped. The points which had stood out for me from the background to the story were mentioned.
I do not own a copy of the sequel, Catriona. I read it at school, possibly in English lessons. I have ordered a copy from the library.
These are three great classics, but not a light read.