Just read, The Riddle of The Sands, Erskine Childers

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An enjoyable read, this and a good example of why it’s often really worth going back to beginnings and basics. I’d a vague memory that I may have seen the film adaptation of Erskine Childers’ The Riddle of The Sands when I was little but then I thought the story had something to do with WW2. I clearly haven’t seen it. It was published in 1903, an early spy novel. While I’m not particularly well read in that genre, I can see why it was influential and also why it was immensely popular pre WW1 as it suggests a German invasion of England and pinpoints England’s defence weaknesses. The Riddle of The Sands is well structured, with a slow beginning and a real sense of adventure and pluck in that old fashioned sense, which many people now probably find quite hard to read or boring and this is a real shame. I like to read ‘the firsts’ because you can then see how a particular genre developed over the coming decades although now I’m thinking of Le Carre and of the Smiley novels which I haven’t yet read. These will have to wait. The Riddle of The Sands was also a very quick read despite nautical and yachting terminology and frequent referrals to tiny maps. I’m very bad on nautical terminology but I do love a map, no matter how tiny. Anyway, a good pick from The Guardian‘s 1,000 novels list, I seem to be sailing through it at the moment, thanks to recent Yorkshire second hand bookshop finds. I will give it a little break however and tackle some new books next.

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2 thoughts on “Just read, The Riddle of The Sands, Erskine Childers

  1. This is a book that I have read and re-read. I love this book – it really is the start of espionage fiction. A colleague who is a keen sailor has just bought this on my recommendation.

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