Book Review "Children of the New Forest" by Captain Fredrick Marryat, a Work of Historical Fiction for Children
Fredrick Marryat was a British naval Officer who took to writing books. He wrote prodigiously and left a fond image of a more than average writer. His book Children of the New Forrest is an engaging children’s story that has outlived Fredrick Marryat who died in 1848. The book was published in 1847 and can be termed as historical fiction for children. He is the first writer in this genre of books
The Children of New Forrest: Plot
Fredrick weaves an engaging story of the time a civil war raged in England when King Charles was deposed and there was a fight on between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers. Fredrick’s tale centres around four children whose father is killed while fighting for King Charles. The house where they stay is burned down, but the children escape with the help of an aged forester, Jacob Armitage.
The Four Children
Fredrick paints an excellent picture of the 4 children who adjust to their new environs and also start living as peasants. There are adventures galore as the Children move from one adventure to another finally recovering their lost heritage.
The Children of the New Forrest is a thrilling book and it will appeal to the young and old alike. Much of the appeal is because of the characters created by Fredrick’s. His denouement of four orphans who have to live like common children forgetting about their aristocratic heritage appeals to all readers.
Fredrick’s creates 2 elder brothers and 2 sisters with Edward the eldest who has to shoulder all the responsibility. There is a whiff of romance as well as Edward meets up with the new intendent and his daughter Patience. His feelings come to the fore and later he realizes that Patience also loves him.
Historical fiction for Children
The book is an excellent work of historical fiction, though it cannot be quoted as an authority of that period. It should be read as a lovely historical tale of that period. It is a book that has appealed to people including children from all walks of life for over 150 years.
Edward is one of the most lovable characters created in English fiction for children. The novel has enough going in it to enthral children and keep elders bound to the book. The prose is simple and the book is eminently readable. If a judgement is to be passed on a book then its longevity in the print form is an indication. It is here that the book scores as it has been continuously in print since 1847. The BBC adapted his novel four times for television, with the last adaption being in 1998. The novel can also be downloaded free as an e-book from the net.
Fredrick was born in 1792 and died comparatively young at the age of 56 in 1848. He served in the Royal Navy and married to Catherine Shairp in 1819. By all accounts it was a happy marriage. He resigned his commission in 1830 and took to full time writing.He had a large family with 4 sons and 7 daughters. Two of his daughters became writers and wrote novels. His only surviving son completed his novel The Little Savage
Books by Fredrick Marryat
Fredrick wrote prodigiously. His works are catalogued below.
- The Naval Officer, or Scenes in the life and Adventures of Frank Mildway (1829)
- The Kings Own (1830)
- Newton Forster or the Merchant Service (1832)
- Peter Simple (1834)
- Jacob Faithful (1834)
- The Pacha of Many Tales (1835)
- Mr Midshipman Easy (1836)
- Japhet in Search of a Father (1836)
- The Pirate (1836)
- The Three Cutters (1836)
- Snarleyyow or the Dog Friend (1837)
- Rattlin the Reefer (with Edward Howard) (1838)
- The Phantom Ship (1839)
- Diary in America (1839)
- Olla Podrida (1840)
- Poor Jack (1840)
- Masterman Ready or Wreck of the Pacific (1841)
- Joseph Rushbrook or the Poacher (1841)
- Percival Keene (1842)
- Monsieur Violet (1843)
- Settlers in Canada (1844)
- The Mission or Scenes in Africa (1845)
- The Privateersman or One Hundred Years Ago (1846)
- The Children of the New Forest (1847)
- The Little Savage (posthumous, 1848)Completed by his son
Many modern critics feel that Marryat’s books were the result of some careless writing, but a vast majority feel he wrote excellent books about naval life and ships.
He is credited as the first writer who wrote a story of the female Werewolf in The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains