Treasure Island

ISBN: 0753453800
ISBN 13: 9780753453803
By: Robert Louis Stevenson

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About this book

The most popular pirate story ever written in English, featuring one of literature’s most beloved “bad guys,” Treasure Island has been happily devoured by several generations of boys—and girls—and grownups. Its unforgettable characters include: young Jim Hawkins, who finds himself owner of a map to Treasure Island, where the fabled pirate booty is buried; honest Captain Smollett, heroic Dr. Livesey, and the good-hearted but obtuse Squire Trelawney, who help Jim on his quest for the treasure; the frightening Blind Pew, double-dealing Israel Hands, and seemingly mad Ben Gunn, buccaneers of varying shades of menace; and, of course, garrulous, affable, ambiguous Long John Silver, who is one moment a friendly, laughing, one-legged sea-cook . . .and the next a dangerous pirate leader!The unexpected and complex relationship that develops between Silver and Jim helps transform what seems at first to be a simple, rip-roaring adventure story into a deeply moving study of a boy’s growth into manhood, as he learns hard lessons about friendship, loyalty, courage and honor—and the uncertain meaning of good and evil.

Reader's Thoughts

Peter Meredith

Another dip into the classics. Wait is this a classic? I'm sure it's close enough. Now I have to get my prejudices behind me, before I get into the book. Here it is, I don't really care for Long John Silvers. Everything tastes like fish, even the french fries. And what exactly are hush-puppies? I'm ok with eating dogs, just not puppies. Cute animals should never be eaten, unless of course they are more tastier than they are cute, which I doubt to be the case with puppies, because, hey they taste like fish.So far here is my thinking when it comes to classics, there must not have been much in the way of competition. Treasure Island was well written when it came to sentence structure and grammar and such, but the plot! The main character, Jim Hawkins was constantly doing illogical and downright dangerous things in order to move the story along. So much so that I would frequently stop and say no one would ever do that. Yet still I worked through the book, enjoying the anachronisms of speech and the sea faring world in which the book was set, until I reached the end. It was hard to tell when the book really ended. Sure there was a point where there was no more words to read, but the actual story just sort of petered out and I was left hoping for something more climatic.

Anzu The Great Destroyer

Never trust a pirate.I really love pirates… even though I try to ignore the fact that they’re dirty, rapists, murderers, alcoholics, thieves… aaah many bad things but still, I like the concept so here I am reading this book. Since it’s summer I tend to go towards these stories. One of my wishes is to become a pirate for a determinate amount of time. I’d love to sail away for a while with Jack Sparrow… I know, who doesn’t love Jack Sparrow? *daydreams*After reading… and reading… and reading some more I decided that this wasn’t what I expected. I was looking for more adventure and the book was lacking it. I decided to finish it though because it’s a classic and all but I do admit that I made a mistake with this one. Robert Louis Stevenson just takes the fun out of the story. It had potential and it all went to Hell. So thanks Mr. Stevenson, you did a good job on this one. Oh and seriously if you have trouble falling asleep or anything just grab Treasure Island, it’ll cure your insomnia damn easily.Heh I couldn’t help myself and I had to make this advertisement. Hell, here I come!I don’t want to be mean and give it a bad review but the story is mediocre. I know it’s a classic and all and I shouldn’t be expecting comic book action but I can’t help feeling bored with it. Call me names but I can’t give it a good score. It would be a lie. The keyword for this book? Lifeless.Read this review on ZombieHazard.


Maybe it's because I grew up, along with how many tens of millions of others, with the mythology of pirates in my head, or maybe it's the adrenaline-pumping action of a good adventure story, but I absolutely loved this book. In fact, I had to force myself to set it aside for a few hours at a time, to draw it out as long as I could stand, to savor every aspect of the classic story. I was not, nor am I now, well-versed in pirate lore, or knew at all the tale of Treasure Island and Long John Silver. But I did see the Disney spin on the tale, Treasure Planet, and upon seeing that movie (which I really enjoyed), I knew I had to read the book counterpart. As I said, I loved it. From he foreshadowing and development, to the choice of words and phrase and buildup that left me breathless in all the right places (Hawkins and Hands fighting on the nearly-sinking Hispaniola, the six remaining mutineers finding the treasure has been taken long before they set foot on the island), to Silver himself, a man you can't help put love in spite of good conscience. It all coalesced so perfectly as to make a book that I am happy to add to my "favorites" collection. So, so, so worth the read!


In one of Manny's 1,682 reviews - no, I can't remember which one** - he says that it must have been incredibly exciting being an avid reader of modern novels in the 1880s and 1890s. Not only were they churning out great classics at a rate of knots, they were inventing whole genres - Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Picture of Dorian Gray, HG Wells - and Treasure Island is one of those, a novel which invented a whole a-harr talk like a pirate genre. Stevenson's prose is quite magical, he absolutely convinced me with his descriptions of winds and seas and gunnels and jibs and booms and mizzenmasts and fo'c'sles (it's okay, you can print the whole word - forecastle - there - the printer won't charge you any more) and all of that. Plus, some of the ripest dialogue anywhere -"If that ain't to your fancy, some of my hands being rough, and having old scores, on account of hazing, then you can stay here, you can. We'll divide stores with you, man for man; and I'll give my affy-davy as before to speak the first ship I sight, and send 'em here to pick you up... Refuse that, and you've seen the last of me but musket-balls.""There!" he cried. "That's what I think of ye. Before an hour's out, I'll stove in your blockhouse like a rum puncheon. Laugh, by thunder, laugh! Before an hour's out ye'll laugh on the other side. Them that die'll be the lucky ones.Cap'n Flint says : As well as a ripping yarn, it's also a nifty dissection of the concept of being a "gentleman" which you may take sociologically, politically or psychologically, as suits ye best, ye lubbers. Squaaawk! Pieces of eight! A tot of rum would go down a treat! Skwawwwk!**Update : I found a previous note I'd already written so I can confirm that it was Manny's review of A Rebours where he says :It must have been so exciting to be a novelist in the second half of the nineteenth century. You weren't limited to just creating a novel; if you were talented, you could create a whole new kind of novel. : Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson1885 : Germinal : Emile Zola 1886 : The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde : R L Stephenson 1891 : The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde, 18911892 : The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes : Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 1895 : The Time Machine : H G Wells 1897 : Dracula : Bram Stoker 1898 : The Turn of the Screw : Henry James 1898 : The War of the Worlds – H G Wells

Jason Pettus

(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write essays on whether or not they deserve the labelEssay #32: Treasure Island (1883), by Robert Louis StevensonThe story in a nutshell:Inspired by a doodle from his step-son and originally written as a rainy-day family diversion, the slim 1883 children's book Treasure Island (originally published serially in 1881 and '82) was not only the first novel of sickly genre author Robert Louis Stevenson's short career, but eventually one of his most famous. Essentially the tale of young adventurer Jim Hawkins, the story opens with him as a dutiful mama's boy off the southwest coast of England, helping to run a family inn that sees little action because of being located much more inland than most of the other local sailor-oriented hotels. Ah, but this is exactly what brings the drunken, scary Billy Bones there, where it becomes quickly apparent that he is on the run and in semi-hiding from a whole crew of mysterious, nefarious characters; and when they finally show up after Bones' alcoholism-related death, the family realizes that they are in fact pirates, on the hunt for a treasure map that Bones stole from a recent mutinous voyage that went horribly, horribly wrong. This then convinces a group of local Victorian gentlemen and family friends to go after the treasure themselves, eventually buying a boat and hiring a local crew to take them to this far-off tropical island; but little do they realize that the sailors they've hired are none other than the surviving pirates of the former mutiny, led by the charismatic yet psychopathic one-legged "ship's cook" Long John Silver, who plan on turning on the ship's owners once actually reaching the island and retrieving the treasure they were forced to leave behind during their last voyage. The rest of the book, then, is essentially an adventure tale, full of all kinds of legitimate surprises that I won't spoil here; let's just say that a lot of swashbuckling takes place, that many details regarding ship-sailing are faithfully recorded, and that the day is eventually saved by our fast-thinking teenage hero Jim, no surprise at all for a book designed specifically to amuse fellow teenage boys.The argument for it being a classic:Well, to begin with, it's arguably the most famous pirate tale ever written, and in fact established for the first time many of the stereotypes now known within the genre, including one-legged buccaneers, treasure maps with a big 'X' on them, shoulder-sitting parrots squawking "Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!," and even the very idea of British pirates being associated with exotic tropical islands in the Caribbean, an association now so strong that it's almost impossible to separate the two; and of course it's also the novel that created the unforgettable Long John Silver, now a thoroughly ingrained part of our Western culture at large. Add to this that it's simply an incredibly thrilling tale (rumor has it that England's Prime Minister at the time stayed up until two in the morning to finish his first reading of it), that it still holds up surprisingly well even 126 years later, and that it's also of immense importance to fans of Stevenson, a prolific author whose genius is just now starting to be widely recognized, after being dismissed by the literary community for almost a century as a frivolous "kiddie writer;" and now add to all this that Treasure Island is a surprisingly sophisticated examination of the era's ethics and moral code as well, taking an unblinking look at the "Victorian Ideal" as manifested in different ways among the stuffy gentlemen "heroes" (unable to improvise in changing circumstances, much to their detriment), the anarchic pirate villains (who almost kill themselves off just on their own, through drunkenness, ignorance and jealousy), and the ruthless yet principled Silver who straddles both these extremes.The argument against:A weak one at best; like many of the genre prototypes of the late Victorian Age, one could argue that this is simply too flippant a tale to be considered a classic. But we already established a long time ago here at the CCLaP 100 that genre stories are indeed eligible for "classic" status in this series, making this argument inapplicable in our case.My verdict:Holy crap! What an incredible book! And what a refreshing change in this case to not have to add my usual caveat to statements like these regarding late Victorian genre experiments: " know, for a century-old children's story that's kind of outdated and that you need to take with a grain of salt." Because the fact is that Treasure Island to this day still reads as fresh and exciting as the day it came out, which is a real testament to the writing skills of Robert Louis Stevenson (who I was already a big fan of before this essay series even started, because of his superbly creepy and also surprisingly relevant Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde); what a shame that this illness-plagued author ended up dying at the age of 44 in the prime of his career, instead of surviving to pen the truly mindblowing mature works I'm convinced that he had been capable of. And it's exactly for the reasons that his fans bring up that this book remains such an amazing one, and how it is that it can still easily be read for pleasure instead of having to force one's way through for historical purposes; because it is indeed not only a thrilling adventure tale, not only written in a style that largely rejects the purplish finery of the Victorian Age in which it was created, but is also a deceptively complex look at the entire nature of "gentlemanness" that was so prevalent at the time, gently poking holes in the entire notion of what it means to be a Refined Citizen of the Empire, even while acknowledging that a complete disavowal of these gentlemanly standards is even worse. There's a very good reason that Long John Silver has endured so strongly in our collective imagination over the last century, when so many other fictional pirates have fallen by the wayside, because he turns out to be a surprisingly complicated character worth coming back to again and again, a vicious killer but with a consistent internal moral code worth perversely admiring; it's but one of many reasons that I confidently label this book a undeniable classic today, and highly recommend it to anyone on the search for the best of 19th-century literature.Is it a classic? Absolutely


Robert Louis Stevenson was an author I became acquainted with very early in life, as the 1959 date suggests; this was my first book by him, and one of the staple favorites of my childhood. (The date is rough; I may have been younger than seven when I first read it, and two is just a guess as to how many times I read it --it was at least that, but maybe more.) My rating is my hindsight assessment of how it stacks up today in the mental canon of literature I've read; but if I'd read it today, with an adult's perspective, my rating might actually be higher.Stylistically, this book has much in common with the author's Kidnapped (without the Scots dialect), and illustrates some of the qualities that lead me to rank him as a favorite writer: a well-crafted plot with a hefty adventure and excitement quotient; vivid, vibrant characters; a solidly moral orientation; a protagonist I could identify with. His formal, 19th-century diction seemed to me back then (and probably also would today) like serious prose for a serious story, and seemed appropriate to the historical setting. (Admittedly, the nautical terms and some of the other vocabulary, using terms outside my experience, was a challenge, but I could usually roughly interpret it from the context --for instance, I could tell that a "lugger" was some sort of boat.) Today, I can recognize the book as a classic of Romantic style (I didn't know what that was back then), with its frank evocation of emotion and exotic --once England is left behind-- tropical island setting and pirate milieu. But Stevenson does not "romanticize" pirates, in the sense that much modern popular culture does; these are brutal, coarse, treacherous cutthroats motivated by greed, with nothing glamorous or charming about them. Long John Silver, of course, is the template for the stereotype of the one-legged pirate captain with a talking parrot; but the formation of the stereotype testifies to the power and vitality of the original creation. I agree with the Goodreads description above that the ambiguous relationship between young narrator Jim Hawkins and Silver is one of the strong points of the book, and the storyline has a coming-of-age theme to it through the relationship, as Jim realizes both that an outwardly jovial and winsome facade can mask a personality capable of very ruthless and self-serving choices --and that, at the same time, the ruthless and self-serving aren't cardboard villains, but human beings.Another similarity to Kidnapped here is that both novels have no major female characters. Indeed, Stevenson wrote this at least partly to please a nephew who was at the age for disliking girls, and had promised him a novel with no female characters except the hero's mother. :-) Given that superstitious 18th-century sailors believed a woman's presence on a ship caused bad luck, that's not an unrealistic situation. So, this isn't a read for fans who insist on having small-r romance with their historical/adventure fiction!


I read this book when I was about 8, and for some reason I didn't like it much. I never re-read it, as I did with all my favorite books, and I recall very little about the story.But I remember it better than some people, as I discovered when I posed what I thought was the easiest Quiz question in the world. Apparently, not everyone is sure how many men there are on a dead man's chest...


Long John Silver is a classic character. He'll murder in cold blood minutes before giving a warm reception and he'll mean both. He's a cold calculator with his eyes on the prize but he wears his greed and affection on his sleeve. He's the perfect picture of the charming knave and throughout this story of pirates and treasure you're never sure if you should be rooting for or against him.Fortunately, this tale is so much adventurous fun that you won't spend too much time psychoanalyzing pirates. The plot is dynamic and well paced and there's plenty of action and humor along the way. The characters, aside from Silver, are less important than the story, but all show distinct enough traits to help you keep track of who's who on a large crew.This tale does suffer from some cliches and incomprehensible sea-speak. And the final 1/3 is a bit light in terms of drama and satisfying resolution (the climax comes almost exactly in the middle.) But hey, this is the tale that popularized 'yo ho ho,' pieces of eight, peg-legs and talking parrots and X marks the spot. It's well worth a read just for the references.


Loved it. The language of the characters is an important part of the book's magic in this gripping adventure story. In the Appendix, Stevenson himself explains how he developed the story. First he drew the map of the island, and having that he could visualise all the characters, locations, and weapons, "fighting and hunting treasure, on these few square inches of a flat projection." It is interesting that the narrator changes for a few chapters in the middle.After the fact I would have preferred not to have read the Introduction by graduate professor of American literature John Seelye before reading Treasure Island. Academics defining an Author's influences before I've read a book sort of deflates the magic for me. I would have preferred it at the back of the book. Stories where the main subject or character is 'an old man who has spent his whole life with the sea' seems to have a great attraction and a timeless appeal. Three examples are Long John Silver, Doc from Cannery Row, and Santiago, in The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway.I certainly intend reading Treasure Island again.


There are a lot of Sea Stories out there, and this is one of the better-known, but it hardly outshines its genre. I found myself missing the humor and vivid characterization of Conrad, not to mention the insightful philosophical asides. I also found it somewhat lacking as an adventure story, as the plot was somewhat simplistic and contrived, following the empty avatar of a narrator through various vicarious thrills. There's nothing wrong with an escapist yarn, but a good one keeps you riveted with twists and turns, alternating verisimilitude and the unlikely. It's not as if it's a problem of period, either, since The Three Musketeers is one of the most rollicking and engrossing adventure stories ever written.One must take into consideration the fact that Treasure Island is one of those genre-defining works which has been rehashed and plundered by a thousand authors since, until it is ingrained in our culture as The representation of piratical life. Like Neuromancer, many of the tropes and plot points might seem unoriginal, but that's only because they have been copied so frequently that we are no longer capable of recognizing their origin.Yet, this isn't the case for all genre-defining works. The Virginian still stands out when compared with any other Western and The Moonstone remains unique despite all the Mysteries that have dutifully followed it. The difference is the author's verve and style, because even if later authors can copy his ideas, copying his style will prove beyond their skill. An author who is good enough to recreate another author's style already has a unique voice of their own.It's curious to compare this with Poe's sole outing in the novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, which has the voice and unpredictability Treasure Island lacks, but doesn't provide the same lilting tone or straightforward plot, leaving each as interesting artifacts in the genre, even if neither can claim to be a complete vision.But then, it is often incomplete visions that provide the greatest inspiration, since they illuminate flaws and pitfalls, providing an outline for later authors and a caution of what should be avoided. Few people have come away from a book they couldn't possibly outdo feeling inspired to create, whereas reading a flawed but entertaining book can be the perfect jolt to a prospective author. But then, a book that inspires other authors to write could hardly help being the influential anchor from which the rest of a genre depends, so such flaws end up serving a purpose, if inadvertently.What drew me to this book, more than anything, is my desire to understand the unique literary mind of Mervyn Peake, one of the most powerful authors in the English language. Peake often invoked this as a favorite book, and produced a powerful series of illustrations for it. In these illustratios, one begins to see what Peake took away from Stevenson, as an author.While this is, to some degree, a story about simple characters, particularly the narrator, it is also a very dark tale, particularly for a children's classic. The death and deceit of the tale come out in Peake's drawings, as does the grotequerie.This darkness is undeniably there, but truthfully, I barely noted it until I looked at Peake's vision. To some degree, Sea Stories always bear this kind of horror, a world of conflict, the unforgiving sea, headhunting cannibals, and death a cheap thing. Poe and Conrad each outdo Stevenson in unsettlement, but in different ways.Poe's tends to be more purely visual, as is always his obsession in writing. It is the languid, lingering description that Poe gives to the leering face of a gull-bitten corpse that drives home the darkness of this life.Conrad, on the other hand, gives us horror in the eyes of his characters. He doesn't shy away from the pure physicality of the unpleasant world, but where it lingers is in the mind's eye; visions which can never be erased, which will forever taint our everyday actions.But Stevenson gives us neither. His adventure tale holds plenty of fear, but when young Jim murders a pirate, gruesome as it is, it rarely lingers either as vignette or psychological crack. Of course, he had a different notion of the maturity of a ten-year-old than we do today, where childhood lasts into the twenties, but we don't get the psychological progression we expect from a man coming to terms with death.These moments and reflections are not entirely absent, but they tend to get lost in the fleeting, episodic style of the story. But I'm glad for Treasure Island, if only because it inspired Peake to expand upon this tale of a precocious boy drawn inexorably into a dark world of grotesque characters in his unfinished magnum opus, the Gormenghast series.


I'm not big on classics, but this book has started to alter my opinion. Treasure Island is an exciting tale of a young boy named Jim Hawkins on an adventure to find treasure to help support him and his mother. His father is dead, and it's just him and his mother, but then he finds a treasure map, and his life will change forever. They find a ship and crew, and all is going well until they run into pirates.The things I didn't like was that it was a little slow at the beginning like most classics. In classic novels, the author s are descriptive about everything, even when it's redundant. There's not alot of this book that I don't like.There are more good things than bad regarding this book. The storyline is really exciting because once they find the chest and the map, they ball gets rolling and the book gets exciting. It's not a terribly long book, but it's not short either, so it's just the right size.


جزيرة الكنز كان بورخيس يعد ستيفنسون أحد كتابه المفضلين، وروبرت لويس ستيفنسون هو صاحب الروايتين المشهورتين جدا ً (جزيرة الكنز) و(الحالة الغريبة للدكتور جيكل والمستر هايد)، الرواية الأولى مشهورة جدا ً عربيا ً، ويعود ذلك إلى أن الرواية حولت على يد المخرج الياباني (أوسامو ديزاكي) إلى مسلسل رسومي مبهر بعنوان (Takarajima)، دبلج هذا المسلسل إلى اللغة العربية وعرض في الثمانينات، وكان أحد أجمل المسلسلات التي تابعتها في طفولتي، وأظن أنه أثر وأمتع جيل كامل قبل أن تفقد الأفلام الرسومية القصة والإنسان، وتصبح مجرد صراعات بين كائنات خارقة ذات تكوينات غريبة، المسلسل أبرز الرواية بقوة، وخاصة شخصية (جون سيلفر) المحورية، كما منح شخصيات أخرى دورا ً أوسع من دورها الحقيقي في الرواية مثل شخصية (جراي) التي كانت شخصيتي المفضلة مع سيلفر. الرواية اعتمدت أحد الموضوعات المحببة، وهو موضوع القراصنة والكنز المفقود، ولكني أقدر أن ما أثرى الرواية ومنحها جمالها، شخصية جون سيلفر المتقلب، والتي أبدع اليابانيون في تصويرها. أتمنى لو كنت أمتلك براءة تكفي، أعود بها لأشاهد ذلكم المسلسل الجميل.


Felt like revisiting my "yute." You really can't read it quite the same way as an adult as you did as a kid. It's a good yarn, but you're so aware of how the stereotypes act to reinforce the "received notions" that support the English class system. Damn that liberal-leaning higher education!:)

Melissa Rudder

Even though Treasure Island might be Robert Louis Stevenson's most famous work (it's in a close race with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), it is my least favorite of the three I've read. It is, of course, full of adventure and extremely significant in the way that it's influenced the cultural representation of pirates, but, while I wanted to know what was going to happen next, I never really felt for the characters. It was curiosity, not suspense, that kept me reading. Which is ultimately less fulfilling.I imagine that Stevenson, who apparently came up with the tale of Treasure Island initially to entertain his stepson, made Jim Hawkins an undefined character so that readers could put themselves in his place. Jim, as far as I could tell, is void of any real defining character traits, aside from those that further the plot. He is curious enough to get into scrapes and courageous enough to survive them. I think if I could have cared for Jim as a person instead of one of those cartoon paintings that you stick your head in and take pictures of at the fair, I would have felt more invested and anxious about the tale's resolution. Most of the characters in Treasure Island are shadows, which does indeed make Long John Silver all the more interesting. Charismatic and fierce, he is an exciting villain. I actually wanted to join his side but I wasn't quite sure if I could trust him.I'm glad I've read Treasure Island. I feel bad that it has taken me so long to read a book that so heavily influenced the vision of pirates I know and love today. So, I suppose, if I'm recommending Stevenson books, I would say Treasure Island for cultural significance, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for freaky Freudian psychology stuff, and, if my memory serves me correctly, Kidnapped for adventure and suspense.


This is a neat little tale of adventure, piracy, hidden treasure, mutiny and heroics. All in all, good stuff. I wish I had read it as a kid, I’m pretty sure I would have loved it – the same way I loved The Mysterious Island, because it’s all about adventure. Nothing beats that when you grow up in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, with few friends and mostly your brother for company. Some tales are also simply better when you’re a child, because you’re less critical, making you more susceptible to the apparent grandeur of piracy and less attentive when it comes to small things (such as the fact that it’s too short to have many ‘small things’).It’s a perfectly enjoyable story, and I’m definitely reading it to my kids when that day comes, but reading it on my own I was a little underwhelmed. I suspect I expected a little more sense of adventure, because when it all came down to it, it all felt very orderly, like it was a gentlemen’s adventure, and god forbid they use dirty tricks, we’ll leave that to the filthy, mutinous pirates. It wasn’t very… swashbuckling. I do believe, however, that my real problem is with the length. It’s like The Hobbit, it could have used another 100 pages to draw everything out a little bit. It all went a little too fast, and when the climax came it was too little too soon. I also committed the folly of seeing the Disney film “Treasure Planet” (based off this novel) before reading it, and that’s got plenty of (steampunk) swashbuckling, so perhaps I merely placed my expectations too high or in the wrong place. Either way, this is still a classic in the genre and does have memorable characters – especially Silver, with his moral ambiguity and shifting loyalties – and an imaginative setting and plot. I imagine reenacting it in my garden might add the thrill I felt it lacked. Worth a try.

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