“I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.”
Have you ever had a book that feels like an old friend? No matter how many times you read it, it still makes you laugh and cry all over again. Opening its dog-eared pages is just as comfortable as slipping into a pair of well-worn slippers or snuggling down into a favorite blanket.
That’s exactly how I feel each time I read The Story of the Treasure Seekers by Edith Nesbit. Although this is my first review for The Classics Club it’s probably my sixth time reading it (don’t worry, re-reads are allowed). There’s just something delightfully charming about this children’s story first published in 1899.
The book follows the adventures of six siblings, named Dora, Oswald, Dicky, Alice, Noel and Horace Octavious (H.O.), living in turn-of-the-century England. Since their mother is dead and their father is preoccupied with the family’s financial troubles the children are pretty much left to themselves. They decide to each come up with an idea of how to “restore the fallen fortunes of the House of Bastable” and try each one. This involves them in many humorous and exciting adventures, from being detectives, to marrying a princess (it really does happen!!), to digging for buried treasure.
I love how each of the children have their own believable personality and flaws, as opposed to being cookie-cutter “angels”. Even though they are “poor” and motherless, their creative imaginations and love of books prevents them from ever being bored or feeling sorry for themselves. In fact, their selfless generosity is what ultimately leads to the happy ending of the book (but I won’t say any more 🙂 ). My favorite character was probably Oswald. The narrator’s identity is supposed to be a secret, but you quickly realize that it’s him (there’s a chapter titled “The Nobleness of Oswald).
I never realized until today that one of my favorite authors drops a hint of The Treasure Seekers in one of his books. At the beginning of The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis it says:
“This is a story about something that happened long ago when your grandfather was a child…In those days Mr. Sherlock Holmes was still living in Baker Street and the Bastables were looking for treasure in the Lewisham Road.“ !
How cool is that?
This is a wonderful book if you’re looking for a short read that is sweet and funny!
Book: The Story of the Treasure Seekers: Being the Adventures of the Bastable Children in Search of a Fortune
Author: Edith Nesbit
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Finish date: Uh…sometime this month (can’t remember exactly, oops)
Book list number: 1 of 205
“It is one of us that tells this story—but I shall not tell you which: only at the very end perhaps I will. While the story is going on you may be trying to guess, only I bet you don’t. It was Oswald who first thought of looking for treasure. Oswald often thinks of very interesting things. And directly he thought of it he did not keep it to himself, as some boys would have done, but he told the others”
“Albert’s uncle says I ought to have put this in the preface, but I never read prefaces, and it is not much good writing things just for people to skip. I wonder other authors have never thought of this.”
“People think six is a great many, when it’s children. …they don’t mind six pairs of boots, or six pounds of apples, or six oranges, especially in equations, but they seem to think that you ought not to have five brothers and sisters.”
” ‘I shall print all your poems, my poet; and now what do you think they’re worth?’
‘I don’t know,’ Noel said. ‘You see I didn’t write them to sell.’ ” (Oh Noel, you and I truly are “brother poets”! That’s exactly how I feel!)
“And the little girl was carried away screaming, and kicking with her little thin legs and her buttoned boots, and between her screams she shrieked: “Common children! I am glad, glad, glad! Common children! Common children!”
“If you hold a guinea-pig up by his tail his eyes drop out.”
“O reader, have you ever been playing Red Indians in blankets round a bedroom fire in a house where you thought there was no one but you—and then suddenly heard a noise like a chair, and a fire being poked, downstairs? Unless you have you will not be able to imagine at all what it feels like.”
(OK, I’d better stop, because I could pretty much write the whole book here as favorite!)
P.S. Technically I didn’t “read” this book, I listened to it in audio form. If you’ve never heard of Librivox, you should totally check it out. They have hundreds of public domain books on audio that you can listen to for free, and many of the readers are quite good. Or, if you would prefer reading the book yourself for free try Project Gutenberg.