Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Thirty-nine Steps

The Thirty-Nine Steps

One of my passions other than reading is watching Masterpiece Theatre on PBS.
I usually just watch Masterpiece Classic, though sometimes I watch Mystery.
The modern ones I don't know if I'd like that much.
But I digress.
Last year I watched The Thirty-nine Steps on Masterpiece Classic.
I absolutely loved it and proceeded to look up whether it had been based on a book or not.
What I found was chronicled over on my personal blog in this post.
Unfortunately, two of the photos on there aren't showing up for me, but at least the picture of my book is there.
The edition here from Amazon is not what I own because (and you'll know this from my other post) the one I do own is a First Edition from 1915.
Quite exciting, really.


Richard Hannay is incredibly bored with life. He wishes he had something different to amuse him. One evening a man from one of the upper flats (he says his name is Scudder) desperately wants to speak with Hannay and he wants to be hidden and says that he already happens to be dead. Well, that's intriguing.

Eventually, the man actually is killed, and because of what he has told Hannay concerning an assassination plot that could set off war in Europe, Hannay is afraid that the murderers will come for him next. And of course, it's entirely probable the police will try to pin the murder of Scudder on him. There's nothing for him to do but escape London and attempt to follow through with what (I think) Scudder was up to. Hannay bribes the milkman for his uniform and escapes London quite well.

What follows is a rather amusing and slightly unbelievable adventure throughout the countryside. Richard Hannay always just manages to escape being arrested. It's kind of hilarious in a way; John Buchan has such straightforward writing and there's no nonsense but some of the escapes are crazy.

Really, I can't tell you much more of the story without giving the whole thing away. The title does actually refer to a set of steps, though. That's important. You'll just have to read the book to find out! I wouldn't honestly recommend watching one of the movies first, because (and this is especially true of the 2008 version) there are added characters and stuff that totally change everything. Like, an added love interest.

I am certainly curious about why Buchan wrote the story the way he did. It's almost as if he had certain inside information about WWI, which I thought because of certain dialogue in the book (that I did not address here). Who knows. I found a blog post from 2008 that talks about it in great detail, and since it doesn't really spoil the book, I don't mind including it. (And, so you know, that post is all I read of that blog...I'm not endorsing anything. Just sharing someone's opinion!)


I enjoyed this adventure novel quite a bit. Apparently there are four other novels featuring Richard Hannay, and now that I know this, I of course have to find them. Eventually.

This book gets four stars. Good story, solid dialogue, simple and to-the-point writing, and not really a long read.

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