I finally got around to finishing The Ship of Adventure for this week’s blog, at approximately 8pm yesterday (Sunday) and then had to sit down and write the blog. It was a good thing that I re-read the book as although I could remember vague details I didn’t remember enough to write a review on the book.
Just to summarise the story for those who don’t know, The Ship of Adventure starts with Dinah, Philip, Jack and Lucy-Ann trying to decide what they are going to do in their summer holidays, and wondering what Mrs Mannering has planned for them as she’s being all secretive. The children are excited to find out that she’s taking on a big cruise ship around the Mediterranean where she can “keep an eye” on them so they don’t fall into any more nasty adventures.
First of all, I would like to admit to something, something I only realised with this re-read. Now I have only read The Ship of Adventure once before, so I hope you can forgive me for not realising this until now, but I assumed that the Ship that was referenced in the title was the Viking Star, the big cruise ship that the four children and Mrs Mannering join to go on their cruising holiday. However in fact I believe the ship is actually the one that is found in the bottle that Lucy-Ann gets Philip for his birthday, as that is the one that starts off the big adventure.
Anyway so off the children go on this big ship with not a whiff of adventure in the air. This reminds me a little of one of the Famous Fives, Five go Down to the Sea I believe, where Julian makes them all promise (for Anne’s sake) that if an adventure comes their way, they shall just leave it and walk away. Its a similar feeling for the Trents and Mannerings in this adventure, because the first half of the book is a little slow paced, like nothing is going to pick up. Its not until just after half way through the book that things start to happen.
Naturally before Lucy-Ann finds her ship in a bottle for Philip’s birthday, the aforementioned boy finds himself another pet. This time a monkey called Micky that he rescues from a group of unkind children. Micky the monkey then plays a big part in the adventure and discovery of the all important treasure map. He also, strangely enough, gets taken home to England, allowed through customs and taken home. I don’t think Mrs Mannering would have been too impressed. I suppose Micky being allowed home with Philip is maybe a sign of how different things are now. Perhaps in the updated versions he’s left at the last place they visit or something. I don’t have a modern copy handy so I can’t check.
So the children are settling into their cruise when a boy joins them, Lucian who is accompanied by his Aunt and Uncle, Mr and Mrs Eppy. Mr Eppy always wears dark glasses and doesn’t like his nephew or the children. This makes him one of those grownups that has to be avoided and quite naturally (and rightly) the bad guy. We find out that Mr Eppy is extremely rich and likes to buy and sell islands in search of treasures, which for this treasure hunt makes him the perfect adversary.
There are lots of ins and outs in this adventure, lots of little things that add up quite quickly to a big adventure. Part of the reason everything seems to happen in the second half of the book is that poor Mrs Mannering has to leave to go and look after Aunt Polly, who you will remember from The Island of Adventure, (and oddly enough is described in this book as Mrs Mannering’s aunt rather than that of Philip and Dinah – have I missed something here?) Anyway, Bill offers to look after the children for Mrs Mannering and comes out to join the cruise. So far the children have found the map to the treasure and done a little investigating but are being stalled and stalked by Mr Eppy who is keen to know their secret.
Whereas they do not tell Aunt Allie what is going on, the children agree to let Bill into the secret. (Note that the Famous Five never tell a grown-up until its time for the police to be called in!) Bill agrees they should see if they can get to the bottom of the mystery and in the end, they all end up on the island of Thamis where the map is showing the treasure is buried. Bill seems intent on ignoring his promise to Mrs Mannering by letting the children drag him into an adventure and this turns out to be have been the worst thing he could have done because they get stranded on the island; something rotten abounds.
I won’t give away anymore, but all I can say is that this is where the real excitement and page turning begins. Bill saves the day in a way, through having brought a colleague who tracks them down on the island, and Philip’s monkey Micky also helps save the day. Its lucky Philip adopted him really!
Anyway, this is all very thrilling, but my romantic soul enjoys the very last chapter the best where Mrs Mannering hears the whole story and tells Bill she won’t be able to trust him again. Distraught at the idea of losing Bill from their lives, Lucy-Ann comes up with a plan! Why don’t Aunt Allie and Bill get married? Then they can all keep an eye on each other and the children get a new father. It seems a very sudden arrangement, because apart from Allie and Bill being seemingly fond of each other, I never picked up on anything more than that, but right there in the last chapter is the moment where you can feel that there is something more in the air.
I could tell you what the outcome of this is, but I shall leave you to read the book yourself… you won’t be disappointed.
Overall Ship isn’t one of my favourite Adventures. There are some beautifully classic moments in it, and I do enjoy the romance at the end, but it takes a long time to build up even though the exotic setting is enjoyable because its somewhere new and back in the fifties that sort of holiday would have been out of the reach of most of the children reading the book.
So go and read The Ship of Adventure and let me know what you think of it!
Next review: The Circus of Adventure
I just reread all 8 books last year. “Ship”, “Mountain” and “River” are IMHO the three weakest in the series. But from those three, I definitely prefer “Ship”. You are right about the slow beginning.
Even as a 10 yo kid I wished EB had expanded out in more detail, this sudden romance/marriage between Aunt Allie and Bill. It’s was all too quick! A lost opportunity.
I think we can add our own details to the romance of Bill and Allie over this and the previous books – quite obviously quite a lot has happened behind closed doors! Not very familiar with this book but seem to remember it as one of the weaker stories with ‘River’ but personally I have always liked ‘Mountain’. Will have to read it again.