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Sunday, 19 August 2012

Book Review: Stalky & Co.

This is my thirteenth review of Devon-related literature. The previous review was of Westward Ho!.

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Title: Stalky & Co.

Type: A collection of short stories

Author: Rudyard Kipling

Links to Devon: The school in these stories is based on the United Services College at Westward Ho!, Devon, which Kipling attended.

When I read this: 16th-18th August, 2012

Summary: This collection of short stories describes the mischievous adventures of three close friends at boarding school, as they teach many an original lesson to their teachers and fellow pupils via cunning tricks. Many of the characters were inspired by people Kipling knew from his schooldays, although the stories are not autobiographical. The final story is about a small reunion of some of the pupils after they left school, and describes how events detailed in the previous stories helped to inspire in later life, when many of the boys joined the army.

Strengths: I love the humour in this book. The pranks and the boys’ conversation never failed to raise a smile as I read each story. Although I did not agree with all of the pranks played, I nonetheless found myself constantly rooting for the three main boys to triumph. In fact, I grew very fond of the boys and was a little sad to reach the end of the book; luckily for me, Kipling seems to have felt the same way, and there are a few more stories about Stalky and Co.’s adventures that I will have to track down.

Weaknesses: As I said above, I didn’t approve of all the pranks, but I think this may be, at least in part, due to these stories being written in the 19th Century, when some attitudes were different to now. Other than that, there is very little to dislike about these stories and, although they were not as captivating as, say, I found Lorna Doone (in that they did not inspire any great thrill or fear for what would happen next), I found them pleasant distractions from the rain outside and will probably dip into them again from time to time.

Overall Opinion: I feel as if Stalky and his companions are old friends whom I look forward to meeting again when I reread their adventures – and when, I hope, I get to read the ones not in this book! If you like mischief, too, I think you’ll enjoy their tales as much as I did.

Rating (out of five): Four smileys!

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The next review will be of the poem New Year on Dartmoor by Sylvia Plath...

FairyJo! x

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