Wednesday, 28 November 2001

Robert Louis Stevenson: Catriona (1893)

Original title: David Balfour
Edition: William Heinemann, 1924 (Buy from Amazon)
Review number: 1000

When reading Kidnapped, it seems as though all the loose ends are tied up; but as soon as you move on to the sequel, it becomes clear that a large gap has been left. This is that no move has been made to clear the name of Alan Breck Stewart of the Appin murder, which David Balfour witnessed in Stevenson's earlier novel.

Unlike the earlier story, Catriona is a love story rather than a thriller, as David falls for the daughter of a rogue. Stevenson concentrates on the character of David; Catriona Drummond is pretty much a typical Victorian heroine. More interesting is her mischievous friend, Barbara Grant, and the introductory note by Stevenson's wife records that he found it difficult for her not to gradually become the heroine. (It also records that the original title of the novel caused confusion, as people thought it was just a new edition of Kidnapped under the name of its hero.)

Catriona is a satisfying sequel, even if, like many such, it would not be a great novel if read on its own.

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