Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Book Review: The Railway Children

The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit

Gramma Enne sent us a great book she found at the Nevada Railroad Museum. It is set in 1905 England and features a family that goes from riches to rags.


Great period read. It’s not historical fiction because it was written and set in 1905, so it was a contemporary novel at the time. You can tell by the language and style of the narration. I was not fond of the narrator. She kept leaving things out. Leaving out the speech and some things at the end wasn’t bad, but other places it got annoying. Overall I really liked reading this book.


At one point, like Bobbie, I thought maybe father was dead. But was happy to find out he wasn’t. This was a fun read. We got to see a bit of what life was like for an English family in 1905.


I cold really identify with Bobbie and Phyllis’s flannel petticoats. They really come in handy during cold weather. Here they served other purposes as well. I liked this book a lot, but thought Bobbie cried a bit too much. I did understand her reasons, I get “wet eyes” when my feelings are hurt too.


Great read. I think I need to read Samantha’s books now to compare American Edwardian life to British Edwardian life. I kept wondering why there wasn’t a local school they could go to. I guess I understand things are different everywhere and someone has to pay the teacher, so if the village doesn’t want to have one they don’t have to. Just found that to be a bit odd.


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was published in 1906. The setting is Edwardian England. These are two important facts to know and understand before you get reading. Why? because children behaved much differently back then than they do now. While there are considerate children today and were inconsiderate children back then, these children are even more considerate in the face of upheaval.

The other reason you need to know this is that the way of speaking then was much different than it is now. Especially between the Queen's English and American English.

This is a great story about how a family deals with losing their comfortable city life and relocating to a home in the country where they strain to make ends meet. While mom tries to get her stories published, the children (Roberta, Peter, and Phyllis) amuse themselves by watching and waving to the trains as the pass through the station nearby.

They make friends with the adults who work at the station as well as a lovely "old gentleman" who rides the 9:15. Throughout the children try to do nice things that are not always received as nice until explained to the receiver. They take their punishments when necessary and learn quite a few lessons.

The one thing I was not completely fond of was not being able to figure out who the narrator is. Is the voice the author's, "mother's," or someone else. The tone was always very familiar and, in some cases, information was left out with the explanation that it was too boring, it would embarrass the children to have it included, wasn't necessary, etc. Well, I wanted to know! :-D Oh, well. I have an imagination I can use.

The reason I warned you about the setting is because many times when I read the conversations with Perks (the porter at the station) my internal voice gave him an American Southern drawl. Not sure why or how. I stopped myself a few times and inserted an English accent similar to Burt's in Mary Poppins.

I really liked this book. It has been made into a movie a couple of times and even a TV series (all British). I hope to find one of those to watch. The book was episodic enough that the screenplays should stay pretty true to form.

This is a great book for people who enjoy reading period literature and children's literature.

Thank you, Gramma Enne!

Happy reading!