If 'Treasure Island' is the pirate story par excellence, then 'Kidnapped' is the romantic Scots adventure story of all time. Written in 1886, it is set in the turmoil and aftermath of the 1746 Jacobite Scots rebellion against the English at Culloden - events that established much of the national Scots character, which persists to this day. The story follows David Balfour, the canny eighteen year old, who is keen to seek his fortune. He sets out from the lowlands of Scotland to meet his mysterious relative, in search of work and 'whatere he may find'. His adventures begin at almost at once, and dark family secrets are soon only the starting point for an adventure that is a sort of Scottish Odyssey, with sea voyage, shipwreck, good friends and fights aplenty in the Hieland mountains and valleys. He meets and teams up with the excitable Alan Breck, a fighting man, and a lover of lost causes. The pace is sustained throughout and the narrative wrings the maximum effect from the most basic action plot and dialogue. The superficial simplicity of the whole belies the psychological depths portrayed in the masculine tensions and arguments that develop between the fugitives, and the book is so well written that it has earned the praises of the literary sophisticate, including Henry James and Jorge Luis Borges. I recommend the Penguin Classics edition for this story as it has an excellent little glossary and set of notes explaining the rich Scots dialect terms which season the dialogue. One odd thing I did notice - there is many a dram of spirits consumed, but it is all brandy, not a drop of guid Scotch.
This report prepared by Michael JR Jose