It’s lastly time for my write-up of the primary novel in Susan Cooper’s The Darkish is Rising Sequence, and what an ideal summer time learn Over Sea, Underneath Stone (OS,US, 1965) made.
In my introductory post to the readalong, I posted a number of questions to contemplate whereas studying the e book, and I’ll replicate on these under, however right here they’re once more …
- We’re studying the e book in prime vacation season. Does it efficiently evoke the sense of journey of childhood holidays on the seaside for you?
- This novel was initially written in response to a contest to honour the reminiscence of E. Nesbit, though it wasn’t truly entered for it. How effectively do you suppose Cooper achieves this?
- I can’t assist evaluating the Drew kids to Narnia’s Pevensies. Barney can be Lucy, Simon can be Peter – does that make Jane Susan? What different parallels are there if any?
- And what in regards to the canine? How does Rufus evaluate with Tintin’s Snowy/Milou or Timmy within the Blyton’s Well-known 5?
Holidays in Cornwall had been a mainstay of my childhood. My household favoured the northern coast, Perranporth’s limitless sands within the 1960s, shifting up the coast to Trebarwith Strand close to Tintagel within the 1970s. Trebarwith seaside was surrounded by cliffs, and had rock swimming pools – a correct sort of seaside to have an journey on, because the Drew kids do in OS,US. Cooper’s location is on the southern coast of Cornwall although – her fictional Trewissick being based mostly on Mevagissey, which I final visited in 2010 whereas staying on the south coast at Fowey this time.
The Drew household, dad and mom Dick and Ellen, kids Simon, Jane and Barney are met at St Austell station by their Nice-Uncle Merry to be taken to the home of an absent sea captain that Merry has taken for the vacations. ‘The Gray Home’ up the hill from the little harbour city comes with resident canine Rufus, and Mrs Palk will are available to cook dinner and preserve home for them. It’s truthful to say that the youngsters are sometimes left to their very own units and it’s on a kind of wet days when they’re exploring the attic, having pushed apart a wardrobe blocking the door (cherished these nods to Lewis in The Magician’s Nephew and TLTW&TW respectively), that they uncover an outdated crumbling map with unusual annotations and, having satisfied themselves that they need to be allowed to seek out the treasure, they set about making an attempt to decipher the riddles.
Their questions nonetheless, are overheard by the unsuitable folks, and shortly the youngsters discover themselves being pressured on all sides, by wealthy yacht dwellers who attempt to entice them onboard, a vicar that isn’t, and the rosy-cheeked Mrs Palk isn’t fairly who she first appears both. They’ve woke up the curiosity of the Darkish Ones, however with Nice-Uncle Merry (generally often known as Gummery – certainly a nod to Nice-Uncle Matthew aka GUM in Streatfeild’s Ballet Footwear) on their aspect to nudge them in the best route, and Rufus’ guard-dog skills they’re on their technique to discover, not pirate treasure, however the Grail!
OS,US is an outstanding journey, within the custom of Blyton’s ‘Well-known 5’ however significantly better written. Though there isn’t any bodily magic as such there’s a magical air and the mixture of Celtic and Arthurian delusion and legend with a quest and the sturdy sense of place brings Alan Garner’s fantastic The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath to thoughts. And large-child that I’m, keep in mind I’m studying these books for the primary time, I didn’t instantly affiliate G-U Merry with that wizard till it was made crystal clear, though there’s a particular air of Gandalf about him – der!
I preferred the three kids, particularly Barney. Sure, Simon is the born chief of the trio a bit bossy, however Jane has good concepts and holds her personal, regardless that she is extra cautious than the others. Having puzzled in the event that they corresponded with any of Lewis’ Pevensies, I might nonetheless say that Barney is a male-Lucy kind. Jane is a lot greater than Blyton’s bland homemaker Anne, however not a tomboy like George both. She is extra like Garner’s Susan relatively than Lewis’ maybe!
All this brings me to the query over whether or not Cooper channels E E Nesbit on this novel, because it was written as a response to a contest to honour Nesbit’s reminiscence. The obvious comparability for me is with the exploits of the Bastables in The Adventures of the Treasure Seekers over the extra magical exploits of the 5 kids in her ‘Psammead’ books. In 12 months 6 at main faculty, again in 1971, I performed bossy Oswald Bastable, certainly the mannequin for Simon, in a college manufacturing of a play derived from that e book – and even wrote a closing scene for it during which the youngsters discovered a treasure chest within the attic, filled with fizzy pop and sweets – want fulfilment certainly.
I totally devoured this e book, and might’t wait to learn quantity two, which supplies the sequence its title. Written after a spot of eight years, and with a brand new solid of characters and new location – will these shifts show an excessive amount of, or ought to we see OS,US as a prequel to the principle occasion? No particular questions this time, however I’ll return subsequent month on the 24th once more.
In the meantime, in case you joined in on the primary episode of this readalong, thanks very a lot – in case you’ve written about it, do depart your hyperlinks under.
Supply: Personal copy from the TBR, E book 13 of my #20BooksofSummer. Crimson Fox paperback, 362 pages.
BUY at Blackwell’s by way of my affiliate hyperlink