Book Review: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Tom SawyerIt seems somehow irreverant to dislike a classic that’s so, well, classic, as Tom Sawyer.  In fact I only disliked the first half.  When Tom and his friends really embark on their adventures, it becomes a great story.

It could be partly cultural. English kids don’t do many American classics at school, well, we certainly didn’t, and although I can relate to 1830s life through other tales,films and programmes, it doesn’t mean I enjoy them.  I didn’t feel that Tom’s school adventures were told as well as say, Big Al would tell them.  It was difficult to understand the voices of the characters, the idioms and accents.  Maybe because of that, I found it hard to distinguish between the young people.  Long passages of dialogue between Tom and Huckleberry Finn, for example, became just dialogue to me with no clear understanding of who was talking.

This changed when Tom went on his adventures.  The power of the writing drew you into the scene, the hardships, the danger, imagined or not. Some of Tom’s antics are cringeworthy but eventually he and his friends become embroiled in serious danger, however lightly they started out.

So, do I think The Adventures of Tom Sawyer worthy of its accolades, worthy of being classed as one of the greatest classics?  Yes and no.  Written in 1876, it is a powerful and evocative telling of an era some thirty or forty years earlier. As a picture of a medium sized town and its characters, as an adventure story, it works and works well.  By the time I’d finished it, I was enjoying it.  It  took me a while, though.

I’m glad I’ve read it, but I don’t think I’d read another.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.

Read for the Pre-1960s Classic Childrens Book Challenge, my offering for September.

August Challenge update: For the Time Travel Challenge it was The Shadow of Atlantis; for the Classic Children’s book it was The Princess and the Goblin.

Don’t forget to enter the Best of Summer 2013 Giveaway Hop


9 thoughts on “Book Review: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

  1. I like that you reviewed Tom Sawyer, Jemima. It IS a classic, and because of the time frame, teaches its readers history as well as basic human values. I like to think we can introduce our children to historical writing as well as history,

  2. Makes me think I ought to reread it. I haven’t read TomSawyer since I was maybe 8 or 9. I remember mostly enjoying it, but finding the scene in the cave pretty scary!

    I do count Twain as one of my literary influences.

  3. I think I want to re-read this now. I think some books are worth revisiting and this one certainly is. I don’t know if i would read it for the history though. I still like the adventure 🙂

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