In my previous post, I presented some of the books that I loved when I was young (and still do). Here are my next five picks.
6. The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier, (1956)
This book marked the entry into secondary school for a considerable portion of Maltesers brought up in the 80s, 90s, and possibly even noughties and beyond. And why not? It is a great story about childhood resilience, courage, family, the second World War and adventure. In this excerpt, Serraillier gives a very poignant picture of what hunger looks like.
“Jan tripped. He fell, one hand still clutching the bowl, the other thrust out to break his fall, and Jimpy tumbling too. The bowl struck a stone and broke. The soup drained away into the dust. There were little lumps of meat and bread and vegetable lying about, still recognizable.
Up till now, the feeding had proceeded in silence. No one but the cooks and the helpers seemed to feel the need to speak.
Now, in a moment, all control vanished. The sight of spilt food was too much for the orderly queue. They burst their ranks and sprang upon it, a rabble of wildly hungry children.”
7. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë, (1847)
Mr Rochester baits Jane by telling her how much he’ll miss her once he is married to the beautiful Blanche Ingram. The customarily self-controlled Jane exposes her feelings in what is in my opinion an epic revelation of her emotions.
“Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! I have as much soul as you, and full as much heart!”
8. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, (1884)
Huck Finn is the boy who questions everything and tests whatever he’s told against his real life experience. He wonders about the marvels of the world around him. He is the child philosopher who questions status quo. For these traits he is a hero to me.
After feigning his most macabre death, he wonders about the beauty and splendour of the moonlight. And I can’t but imagine the look of love and sweet surprise as he encounters the night sky and the moon for the first time from this new perspective.
“I got out amongst the drift-wood and then laid down in the bottom of the canoe and let her float. I laid there and had a good rest and a smoke out of my pipe, looking away into the sky, not a cloud in it. The sky looks ever so deep when you lay down on your back in the moonshine; I never knowed it before.”
9. A Man for All Seasons, Robert Bolt, (1961)
More’s heroism is a resolute, quiet and very determined way of being heroic. Ready to stick to his values through thick and thin.
“But since in fact we see that avarice, anger, envy, pride, sloth, lust and stupidity commonly profit far beyond humility, chastity, fortitude, justice and thought, and have to choose, to be human at all… why then perhaps we must stand fast a little – even at the risk of being heroes.”
10. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens, (1838)
I find myself wondering at the power of status as a result of earthly possessions and the unfairness of it all.
“What an excellent example of the power of dress, young Oliver Twist was! Wrapped in the blanket which had hitherto formed his only covering, he might have been the child of a nobleman or a beggar; it would have been hard for the haughtiest stranger to have assigned him his proper station in society. But now that he was enveloped in the old calico robes which had grown yellow in the same service, he was badged and ticketed, and fell into his place at once – a parish child – the orphan of a workhouse – the humble, half-starved drudge – to be cuffed and buffeted through the world – despised by all, and pitied by none.”
Thanks for reading! If you have some time, I would really love to know which books and/or authors set your imagination on fire when you were young/ish and why :).