Thursday, March 14, 2013

Book Review: The Children Of The New Forest

Yes, another classic adventure story! What can I say, I've been really into re-listening to some of the classic adventure tales that my mom read to me and my siblings years ago. I remembered The Children Of The New Forest as being a very unique and special story with wonderful character. It was such fun revisiting this classic, I listened to it on LibriVox here.

The Children Of The New Forest by Captain Frederick Marryat

Story: An engaging adventure story set in England during the time of the Civil War when King Charles was deposed and the Roundheads were vying with the Cavaliers. The central characters are the four children of staunch Royalist Colonel Beverley killed in battle while fighting for King Charles. Through the efforts of aged forester Jacob Armitage, the children escape the burning of their ancestral home and take up residence with him in his cottage in the New Forest. As his "grandchildren" they take eagerly to the peasant life and learn to provide for themselves by using their wits. The pitfall they build to trap cattle catches more than they bargain for, leading to one adventure after another. Against all odds they deftly maneuver through the treacherous landscape of the times, eventually recovering their family estate. - from Amazon listing

Captain Frederick Marryat
Author: Born in London, England Frederick Marryat (1792-1848) entered the Royal Navy as a 14-year-old midshipman. He resigned his commission at the rank of captain after 24 years of service to devote his time to writing. From 1832 to 1835 Marryat edited The Metropolitan Magazine.  He kept producing novels, with his biggest success, Mr Midshipman Easy, coming in 1836. He lived in Brussels for a year, traveled in Canada and the United States, then moved to London in 1839, where he was in the literary circle of Charles Dickens and others. He was in North America in 1837 when the Rebellion of that year in Lower Canada broke out, and served with the British forces in suppressing it. He was named a Fellow of the Royal Society in recognition of his invention and other achievements. In 1843 he moved to a small farm at Manor Cottage in Norfolk, where he died in 1848. His daughter Florence Marryat later became well known as a writer and actress, she also published The Life and Letters of Captain Marryat (1872). His son Francis Samuel Marryat completed his late novel The Little Savage. His later novels were generally for the children's market, including his most famous novel for contemporary readers, The Children of the New Forest, which was published in 1847 and set in the countryside surrounding the village of Sway, Hampshire. In all Captain Marryat had 26 published works most of them being adventure stories. His Masterman Ready, or the Wreck of the Pacific is also a favorite of mine.

Interesting Bits: Being saved from fire, hiding in the forest, children learning how to provide for themselves, saving two damsels in distress, foiling thieves and scoundrels evil plans, fighting for the king, hiding from soldiers, finding treasure, keeping secrets, happy endings!

Spiritual Content: Old Jacob Armitage leads the children each morning in Bible reading and prayer, something they continue on their own as they grow up. There is also a lot of talk about God's providence and thankfulness for His help in many situations. It's not necessarily mentioned here but if you look into the history of the English Civil War you will see that the Roundheads were Puritans and Presbyterians while a lot of the Cavaliers were liberal Church of England followers. Most of the characters in this story are on the Cavalier side but also possess very patriotic and chivalrous ideas and their deep faith in God guides their actions. Always acting honorably and helping others are big themes in the book.

My Thoughts: I love this book and had forgotten how interesting it is! There's great excitement from beginning to end and interesting tidbits from history. The characters are very easy to like and cheer for. It's interesting to read how Jacob Armitage teaches these privileged children to hunt, cook, clean, farm, care for animals and provide for their own needs. Hearing this read again I had forgotten how much time passes from the beginning to the end, it really takes you on a journey from their childhood to their adulthood. A lot of the story is told through Edward's eyes but also a bit from Humphrey's eyes and the others too. I love the characters names too: Edward, Humphrey, Edith, Alice, Clara and Patience.
I highly recommend The Children of the New Forest especially if you love historical fiction and stories with a bit of adventure! This book is also a great family story for parents and kids alike!

Children of the New Forest (TV 1998)
Films: I've long thought that The Children of the New Forest would make a great miniseries, and I guess others have thought so too because there have been no less than four TV miniseries productions made of the book! The latest one was in 1998 and looks very well done but I've heard it does change some of the plot revealing Edward Armitage's secrets a lot sooner than it should have. So far I haven't been able to watch it but I have enjoyed a clip from the adaptation that I found on YouTube.

Have you read The Children of The New Forest or any other books by Captain Marryat?

Do you think it would make an interesting film?


Anna Grace said...

Hi! How are you? Love the new template, by the way!

I have a strange question for you -- what homeschool curriculum did you use growing up? I'm curious because from what you've said on your blog and such -- we may have done the same thing. :) Let me know! Thanks! {Was it a Charlotte Mason thing? Ambleside Online, to be more specific?}

After that strange question - I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!! My mother, too, read this to my sister and I when we were little {along with Kidnapped, Robinson Crusoe, etc...which is why I was wondering if we used the same there are only a handful of curriculums that include a lot of those really good, not-much-known-of classics}.

I love the gypsy boy they find...oh! And Clara! {she's the girl who was dressed as a boy...correct?}

I have another of Marryat's books sitting in my bookcase waiting to be read. "The Settlers of Canada". One of these days I'm going to sit down and read that one... :)

Great review!


Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm said...

Anna Grace,
Thanks for your comment! Glad you like the new blog design and love 'The Children of the New Forest'!
My parents used a combination of a lot of different curriculum to school me and my siblings (A Beka, Saxon Math, Bob Jones, ACE, Christian Liberty Press and others). I think my mom had a list of good children's classic literature at one time but otherwise she just read us books she read as a girl (she went to public school but loved the library).
The books like 'Kidnapped', 'Moonfleet', 'Treasure Island', 'New Forest' and 'Masterman Ready' she found at a yard sale all with similar looking covers (same publisher) and just took it upon herself to read all of them to us kids. She read girls books like 'Pollyanna', 'Heidi' and 'Elsie Dinsmore' also but my brother was four years younger and he liked the adventure books better - I did too! ;)
I'm so glad you've heard of Captain Marryat! His style of writing and books are so interesting! :)

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