Cover detail of The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

I sat down to write this today with the knowledge that I would be ticking off another book from my BBC Big Read re-read challenge. When I scoured the list I couldn't find sight nor sound of The Railway Children by E. Nesbit! I was mistaken, and so my excellent first line of this post is lost forever.

Read all about my BBC Big Read re-read challenge

How is the book not on the BBC Big Read list? It's a classic! Let's find out more shall we.

The Plot

When Roberta, Peter and Phyllis' father is mysteriously taken away, their mother is forced to move them all to a rather tiny, miserable cottage in the countryside. The only good thing about it is the nearby railway the host of colourful characters who keep it running.
The children soon learn that although times are hard, there is fun to be had - and sometimes you will find friendship and freedom in the most unexpected of places.
But what really happened to their father and will he ever come home?

My Thoughts

I have not read this book before, so this was a lovely surprise. A friend I was lucky enough to work with directed the play of The Railway Children. The performance sounded brilliant and the posters featured a working steam-train with various members of the cast standing beside it. When he spoke of it, he always became emotional and as a director I think it was his favourite performance.

There is something wonderfully nostalgic about this book. Set in Edwardian times, we follow the children as they are forced to move home when their father one day is taken away. They move to Yorkshire, to a small cottage and the family set about making the whole thing an adventure rather than be gloomy.

The children's mother is a writer and is on hand to dispense wisdom and comfort. As the children explore the local area, they meet a real mix of characters who they befriend. There is a genetleman on the train who the children wave to each day, the Stationmaster and Perks. All feature in the children's adventures.

E. Nesbit has written a wonderful set of characters especially Roberta, Peter and Phyllis who all set about being largely positive about being poor and helping their mother and others when they can. They bicker, they play and they adventure and you can't help but like them.

But there is the mystery of their father and where he is, having disappeared so quickly. They miss their father. But rest assured, all comes to a satisfying conclusion.

This was an extremely enjoyable read, it made me feel nostalgic (even though I haven't read the book before) and reminded me of children's classic I used to read as a child. Very enjoyable and one which I felt should have been on the BBC Big Read list.