I have never read this book before (it wasn’t compulsory reading on the British curriculum) and I absolutely loved it. It’s not only an interesting story, it’s extremely well written and has fantastic characterization.
Everyone on my commute officially thinks I am a mad woman because Tom consistently made me laugh with his ideas and amazing ability to sell stuff he was making up as he went along. I found his love for the limelight endearing. He wanted to be admired by everyone but most of all by little Becky Thatcher.
Mark Twain's ‘cave’ debacle caught me completely unaware but I won’t say too much on this point because I don’t want to give the plot away.
A lot of stories that I read nowadays are good plots but the writing isn’t particularly an art in itself. Indeed, I read so many such books that sometimes I forget what good writing is. I will share a few of my favorite lines:
When Tom ‘tricked’ the boys into painting the garden wall for him: “He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it – namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.” Personally, I felt like Tom taught me something here too; so cunning, so funny.
On Sundays Tom wore “his “other clothes” – and so by that we know the size of his wardrobe.”
When his affections transferred from Amy to Becky, “conscience-smitten too – he could not meet Amy Lawrence’s eye, he could not brook her loving gaze.”
And then the poignant moment when Amy realizes that her ‘boyfriend’ likes somebody else: “Amy Lawrence was proud and glad, and she tried to make Tom see it in her face – but he wouldn’t look. She wondered; then she was just a grain troubled; next a dim suspicion came and went – came again; she watched; a furtive glance told her worlds – and then her heart broke, and she was jealous, and angry, and the tears came and she hated everybody. Tom most of all (she thought).” You will agree that such beautiful, well-crafted prose is nowadays rare.
At the point of meeting Tom, Becky said she knew he was “Thomas Sawyer” but he corrected that swiftly: "“That’s the name they lick me by. I’m Tom when I’m good. You call me Tom, will you?”"
I found Tom’s superstitions and ‘black magic’ very funny. “The truth was, that a superstition of his had failed, here, which he and all his comrades had always looked upon as infallible…Tom’s whole structure of faith was shaken to its foundations.”
When Tom and his friend decided they weren’t loved: “As the two boys walked sorrowing along, they made a new compact to stand by each other and be brothers and never separate till death relieved them of their troubles. Then they began to lay their plans. Joe was for being a hermit, and living on crusts in a remote cave, and dying, some time, of cold and want and grief; but after listening to Tom, he conceded that there were some conspicuous advantages about a life of crime, and so he consented to be a pirate.”
When Tom returned from ‘the island’” “What a hero Tom was become, now! He did not go skipping and prancing, but moved with a dignified swagger as became a pirate who felt that the public eye was on him.” Tom’s behavior was so beyond his age. Indeed, “at school the children made so much of him and Joe, and delivered such eloquent admiration from their eyes, that the two heroes were not long in becoming insufferably “stuck-up”."
When Tom convinced Huck to join him in one of his crazy pursuits, “Huck was willing. Huck was always willing to take a hand in any enterprise that offered entertainment and required no capital, for he had a troublesome superabundance of that sort of time which is not money.”
The above isn’t even a quarter of what I highlighted in this book. It seemed as though every other line was precious but I will leave you with this one innocent scene. When Huck his good friend suggested they take the guns that were in the ‘treasure cave’ Tom said:
“No, Huck – leave them there. They’re just the tricks to have when we go to robbing. We’ll keep them there all the time, and we’ll hold our orgies there, too. It’s an awful snug place for orgies.”
“I dono. But robbers always have orgies, and of course we’ve got to have them, too.”
Aww. So innocent. If you haven’t read this, it’s my biggest recommendation in 2012 so far. It’s free on Amazon kindle.
Time allowing, I love to read. If I read anything interesting, I will blog about it here.