Friday, August 14, 2020

Book Review: Francie on the Run by Hilda van Stockum (1939)

In this sequel to The Cottage at Bantry Bay, Francie O’Sullivan has finally had the surgery required to heal his foot, and he is ready to head home. Unable to stand being cooped up in the hospital any longer, he takes to the streets of Dublin, determined to get himself home to show his twin brother Liam how well he can walk. When Francie gets on the wrong train, however, he sets into motion a series of encounters with kind strangers who, through roundabout means, help him to get home to Bantry Bay.  

The premise of this book is the kind of thing I tended to avoid as a kid. I was always troubled by the idea of a child going off somewhere without his parents knowing, and the idea of Francie having fun on the road while his mother doesn’t know where he is bothers me even now. Still, Francie’s indomitable spirit comes alive on the page, and it’s hard not to get caught up in his cheerful enthusiasm. It was really fun reading about how each new friend Francie made reacted to his strong little personality, and of course, there was never any chance that everything would be anything but well in the end. 

Francie on the Run is a great everyday adventure story. Though best enjoyed as part of the series, it could also stand on its own. Personally, as it is part of that larger series, I would have liked to see more of the rest of the family, but it does work just fine as just Francie’s book. It also piqued my curiosity with its introduction of Pegeen, whose name is also the title of the third and final Bantry Bay book. I’ll be reading that as soon as I can find a copy!

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