Andrew Motion. Crown, $24 (415p) ISBN 978-0-307-88487-9
Robert Louis Stevenson's classic Treasure Island inspires former UK poet laureate Motion's latest foray into fiction. Jim Hawkins, Stevenson's narrator, having spent his share of the treasure now owns a quiet inn on the Thames. His son, also named Jim, who narrates the tale, has grown up hearing his father's incessant yarns about the Hispaniola's voyage. One evening a tomboyish girl appears, traveling in her own boat and seeking out young Jim. She is Natty Silver, daughter of wily old Long John, come with a proposition from her father: with the help of Jim the elder's map, which his son must "borrow," the two children will set sail with a crew handpicked by Silver and recover the treasure left behind by their fathers. Jim consents, slips the map from its usual hiding place, and Jim and Natty's ship, the Silver Nightingale, departs, unknowingly bound for far more than bars of silver and a few marooned pirates. Motion's writing is smooth and sure, evoking a period atmosphere without undue effort. But aside from descriptions of the island's flora and fauna, some psychological depth, and an injection of moral gravity greater than treasure seeking, the narrative arc of his tale feels too much like its predecessor. Fans of the original will doubtless enjoy this story of high adventure, but might come away wishing Motion had been more ambitious in his sequel. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 10/08/2012
Release date: 08/01/2012
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