Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book Review : The Riddle Of The Sands - Erskine Childers 3*

This is a novel that has been picked for the '1001 Greatest Novels' list, and for the life of me I cannot imagine why.  Childers' pre WW1 spy novel moves at a tortuous pace as the protagonist Carruthers bumbles aimlessly around in a yacht with his companion Davies along the German and Dutch coastlines.

The plot of the novel, such as it is, is that Davies believes that he has uncovered German preparations for a future invasion of Britain, the Germans involved seem to include a Brit masquerading as a German and their cover story is that they are a salvage company looking for a sunken bullion ship.  This all sounds as if it should be tremendously exciting, but the plot is deeply buried beneath a never ending avalanche of detail about tides, sand banks, estuaries, train timetables and sailing lingo.

This is going to be one of the very few occasions when I commit the readers' cardinal sin and say - ignore the book and try to get a copy of the film, at least the film has Jenny Agutter in it so can't be all bad.

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