Hi Virtually Readers! I read the Wouldbegoods (and later The Treasure Seekers) recently. They are classic children’s books that I really enjoyed, and I especially liked the writing style so I tried to review it like it had been written in 1901. Even if this book isn’t your thing, I found writing the review super fun. Also Shanti and I are currently away so the posts in the next few weeks will be scheduled.
Title: The Wouldbegoods
Author: E. Nesbit (who is actually a woman)
Genre: Classic children’s (but fun to read as an older person too)
Themes: Friendship, mischief, living in the countryside, games
Similar to: William series, Peter Pan
Despite the fact that this tome was penned more than11 decades prior to Shar’s time, she thoroughly enjoyed it. She would like to dispel rumours that she only reads fluffy, modern books that rot her brain (though these are more wonderful than some would believe); she is an erudite girl who seeks to read expand her vocabulary and knowledge by reading the classics. And if they are written for children, who cares?—the stories are more interesting anyway.
Shar enjoyed the narrator, Oswald Bastable, and his rather distinct voice. It is because of him she has taken to referring to herself (usually) in the third person. As it becomes clear that the ‘I’ of the narrator is, in fact, Oswald, it also transpires that he, in narrating the various adventures of himself, his five sibling and two friends in their attempts to be good , paints himself in a most noble light. The effect of this is most amusing.
The adventures, too, caused much hilarity on my—I mean Shar’s—part. Although they’re trying to be good, the Wouldbegoods get themselves into some most unfortunate scrapes. The characters were jolly good, though they seemed to undergo little development.
Shar’s main quibble with this book was the sexism inherent in the stories, with the girls being described as ‘useless’ or ‘silly’ at various points in the narration. Their giggles, unwillingness to participate in games, or clothes (which, to be fair, are rather silly) are all critiscised in the book. Yet it was hard to tell if this was the author’s perspective, herself and woman and a radical socialist at that (I read the author bio, it was most enlightening), or the narrators. Besides, it was published in 1901. These things can be forgiven. (N.B I later read the introduction to The Treasure Seekers, this book’s prequel. It became most apparent that the author was making fun of gender norms of the time, not reinforcing them).
Overall, Shar most appreciated a reread of this childhood classic, and is most eager to read the author’s other books.