My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Seeing that The Story Of The Treasure Seekers was being republished by Hesperus Press made me very happy indeed. They’ve produced a beautiful copy, one that is almost edible with its quality and production values. You can see a larger picture of it here. It’s very lovely and also features a foreword from Julia “Gruffalo” Donaldson.
E Nesbit herself was a bit amazing and in this, her first children’s book, she created something quite special. The Story Of The Reasure Seekers is about how the Bastable children try to restore the family fortunes. Narrated by one of the children who attempts to remain anonymous (though s/he gives himself away very swiftly!), it remains surprisingly readable and enjoyable. Bearing in mind it was first published in 1899, this is quite something and shows just how good E Nesbit was. And she was! This is no run of the mill story. It’s full of a witty and precise skewering of standards and society, plus some very sharp commentary on religion, money and gender. Have a look at the clergyman incident for one example of Nesbit being amazing.
I enjoyed this a lot. There were moments where it dragged a little, but this is reflective of its style and structure. It’s a book that would reward being read out loud due to the episodic nature of the chapters and the way these are very self-contained pieces. One thing to note however is that the text, being very much a product of its pre-twentieth century period, does feature one mention of the ‘n-word’. It is a singularly brief mention right at the end and could easily be skipped were you reading this out loud.
I was struck on the rereading of this at how relevant it still feels and whilst that’s partially a sad testament to the currant financial climate, it is also a testament to Nesbit’s enduring skill. The Story Of The Treasure Seekers is something quite special, and this edition is an excellent way to introduce you to one of the eternal greats of British children’s literature.
Also, you may be interested in this brilliant piece that reviews The Story Of the Treasure Seekers from the perspective of capitalism.