Jim Davis: A High Sea Adventure

John Masefield

Jim Davis is a book that would be very popular on Wild Cat Island, and very well could have been read there. My suggestion is that it should be read out loud – around the campfire to prevent squabbles as to who gets it first.

Our hero Jim, was born in 1800, and after the death of his parents, is sent to live with an uncle in Devon – a short mile from the sea. Devon, of course, was a smuggling coast, and it doesn't take Jim long to become acquainted with a few of the local smugglers, especially one smuggler, Marah Gorsuch. Things take a turn for the worse when the local coastguard tries to capture the smugglers. Jim tries to keep his friends from getting caught and keep them from killing the preventive agents. While he's successful in saving the agents, the smugglers decide that he knows too much for their good. Their solution – kidnap Jim and take him along on a few voyages, making he as guilty as they. While the first voyage is successful, the second falls prey to ambush. Many of the smugglers are wounded or killed, and Jim manages to escape in the confusion. However, he has now been identified as a smuggler, and this makes the trip home quite difficult. After many adventures, including a brush with gypsies, Jim finally returns home, as does his friend Marah.

Jim Davis is an enjoyable book. Yes, the author is that John Masefield. It's a good illustration of life in the Napoleonic era, and how people lived with the smugglers, pretending not to know what went on ("Watch the wall, my darling, as the Gentlemen go by").

There's plenty of information on ships and smuggling, enough for any number of Amazon pirates. For Peter Duck fans, there's even a tale of lost treasure. I recommend it highly.

Originally published in 1911, it was republished in 2002 by The Chicken House, a division of Scholastic Books, both UK and USA.

Reviewed by Pam Adams, August, 2004

This article is ©2004 by Pam Adams, and posted on All Things Ransome with permission.

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