on 29 August 2015
Having read the William stories over half a century ago and really enjoyed them I decided to revisit my childhood and see if I would enjoy them again. I wasn't disappointed. Certainly the language has dated; it was old-fashioned to me even back in the 1960s. However, it's nothing a reasonably good teenage reader with a decent dictionary can't overcome, especially if they have an interest in the 1920s through to the 50s. It's wonderful how William, his family and friends age no more than about six months through those decades, although society, fashion, technology and events move on chronologically with the times in which the stories were written!
I would have given at least four, probably five stars for the book, but the Kindle version is a let down. First, the original illustrations are missing. There was always something darkly mesmerising about those. Second, for some strange reason whole sentences and paragraphs randomly appear in block capitals, often repeating text already written. Most disconcerting. I'd advise anyone wanting to read this book to pay a bit more and get the printed-on-paper version to enjoy it in a format William Brown would have understood.
on 4 September 2000
Martin Jarvis manages to capture the character of the eponymous William perfectly. All the voices he gives the characters are, I'm sure, just as Richmal Crompton intended them.
Having read all the 'Just William' books as a child, even now I sometimes re-read them, it is wonderful to be able to listen to them reproduced so faithfully.
Superb. More please.
I read the William books as a young child. They were red hardback books that I'd inherited from my older siblings. However, we didn't have this particular book, so I've now read it for the first time.
William is the sort of boy who, if he were a real boy, and existed in this day and age, would probably be sent to an institution, or at the very least be heavily sedated with Ritalin, or something even worse.
Apart from William, the Brown family consists of Mr. and Mrs. Brown and William's older siblings, Robert and Ethel.
Mrs. Brown is resigned and patient as regards William's escapades, while Mr. Brown mostly contents himself with exclaiming “He's mad, mad, I say!”
William's exploits are actually more than minor misdemeanours and, instead of mildly putting up with them, it might have been more fitting had the parents set some firm limits. But then of course the book wouldn't have been so funny.
This book was published in 1922 (I read the books for the first time in the 50s), and it contains quite a few old-fashioned and thus unfamiliar words and expressions. It is eloquently written; the author doesn't talk down to the reader, and puts to good use her rich, extensive vocabulary.
One linguistic feature that puzzles me is that, while the rest of the family talk in an absolutely refined and educated manner, William, though gifted with amazing powers of persuasion and articulation, expresses himself in a distinctly ungrammatical and “common” way, which in fact more resembles the speech of their servants, (William's family is middle-class, and they were endowed with both a Cook and a housemaid, as far as I recall, and perhaps more servants.)
In this book, William wanders into a nearby mansion and finds himself mistaken for a servant boy, “the new Boots” (whatever that is), and tries his hand at this, until it all ends tumultuously. In a later chapter his Great-Aunt Emily comes to visit; her only occupations are eating and sleeping, and when she sleeps she snores in an impressive and entertaining manner. The ever resourceful William avails himself of the opportunity to augment his pocket money by inviting the village children to come to witness/listen to this fascinating performance, and soon they're all lining up and paying all they've got to witness the show. Subsequently, Great-Aunt Emily cuts short her stay, which had been threatening to become exceedingly long-lasting, and Mr. Brown, who was not enamoured of her, rewards William with half-a-crown. (And I recall a time when half-a-crown was quite a large sum!).
The book contains innumerable further hilarious episodes, including one in which Mrs. Brown was so irresponsible as to entrust William with looking after a toddler for the afternoon, though Robert was shocked at her naïve trust in her younger son.
I'm not a person that generally laughs aloud when watching a funny film or reading a funny book, but found myself doing so several times when reading this book. Since I've heard that laughing is extremely good for one, maybe I should read or re-read all the William books! I highly recommend them, including this one, to all.
on 10 April 2002
Sometimes when you read a story or put a video on for the kids for the umpteenth time you try and force yourself to remember what a blessing that it is and how lucky that you are to be a parent.
When you put on this "wizard bang" classic, as dated and stale as a six week old french stick, you think that it is a blessing.
Jarvis breathes life into these dated stories with their silly plots and ridiculous language and makes them vital and alive. All the family enjoy a long drive when these tapes are playing.
I don't know if my nine year old daughter will be telling her school mates how much she likes them though, but in the privacy of the car she loves it. My six year old daughter, less self conscious, is an open fan.
Oh I say old boy, they really are splendid.