THE YOUNG PRETENDERS by Barbara Leonie Picard


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Although clearly quite well researched, this period story about two children who rescued a thief because they thought he was a Highlander and had fought for Bonnie Prince Charlie provides only insipid entertainment. Francis and Bella Rimpole shared a secret romantic sympathy for the Jacobite cause. When Seumas O'Leary came thumping across their estate with the militia in pursuit they mistook his brogue, assumed he must be a Scot, and agreed to hide him for the Cause. Eventually the children discover their error, but by then Seumas is their responsibility and they can't really reveal his refuge. He never seems in terribly great danger of being discovered and the prolonged game of hide-and-go-seek continues at a tiresome pace. None of the characters are strongly appealing--Francis is too austere, Bella is pleasant but dull, and Seumas seems to indolent to make a dashing rogue. The book does provide a very realistic portrayal of comfortable country living during the mid-17th century. Unfortunately that's a period that lacks strong appeal for young readers especially in this country and this old-fashioned adventure doesn't provide the extra stimulus. A disappointment from this well-known folk-lorist.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1966
Publisher: Criterion