What would Jane Eyre look like 40 years after falling for Mr. Rochester? What kind of life would they have together? It's just this kind of question that celebrated poet Andrew Motion asks about another English classic, Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island
. To answer it, he's written the deft, wildly imaginative Silver: Return to Treasure Island
, a story set 40 years after
young Jim Hawkins has returned to England with his bounty. Devastated by the loss of his wife, he drinks himself into a stupor while halfheartedly running a small inn. Not surprisingly, his only son—also named Jim—runs away to sea with his father's old map. Accompanying him is Natty, the clever yet mysterious daughter of Long John Silver, the notorious star of Stevenson's original novel. A series of high-seas adventures ensue that include everything from booby-trapped jungles to abused captives to missing precious metals. What's so fun—and gripping—about this sequel is that, first of all, you don't have to have read Treasure Island
(key details are studded throughout) and, second of all, Motion shares that wickedly delightful sense of story and language of his predecessor. Every chapter crackles with energy and action. Lies, betrayals, romance, humor—expect them all. But Motion also uses this reflection on the fictional past to comment on social issues like slavery and environmentalism, which Stevenson could not. What results is a page-turner that thoughtfully questions its own world—and makes you long for a sequel to the sequel.