Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Railway Children by E Nesbitt


DATE READ: February 2011

This is the well known classic children’s book that I knew from the film but had never actually read it. Set in 1905 it is the story of a prosperous London family stricken by the tragedy of the father being taken away by the police. The three children are unaware that he has been arrested and sent to prison for espionage. They leave their large London home and travel to a small cottage in the countryside.

Despite missing their father (and at the beginning worrying about him a great deal) they are interested and excited to be living in the country – and are particularly thrilled to be so near to the railway line and the local station.

It is a charming story – no wonder it has been read by generations of British children. The children are great characters and the author also shows real affection for the people living nearby. The appearance of a Russian dissident in the story was probably quite brave for the time – and also a reflection of Nesbitt’s own somewhat Bohemian life.

From an adult point of view the plot doesn’t really hold up – but in the end this really doesn’t matter. And I did wonder why these middle-class children were not at school. Only towards the end does their mother start to give them lessons.

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