The New World

Written by Andrew Motion
Review by Doug Kemp

This is a sequel to the former Poet Laureate’s own sequel to RL Stevenson’s Treasure Island. This was titled Silver (reviewed in HNR 62 in 2012), and concerned the return to the famous island by the son of Jim Hawkins, also called Jim, and Long John Silver’s mixed-race daughter Natty. The New World begins with Jim and Natty being shipwrecked off the Gulf of Mexico, after leaving Treasure Island with the silver bars liberated from the brigands. They are the somewhat unlikely only survivors of the wreck. The silver is lost again, and they are captured by a violent tribe. They escape from capture and probable death, taking from the tribe leader who is known as Black Cloud a valuable silver necklace. Thus begins the adventures of the bnewworld-usrave pair as they attempt to find their way to safety and back to England, while being tracked by an enraged Black Cloud, wanting the return of his property.

The tale is narrated by an elderly Jim Hawkins as a memoir, 35 years or so after the events. As with Silver, the story has a number of fantastical elements, with the close relationship between Jim and Natty also being a theme of the plot. It is told in rich and evocative prose, with lush descriptions of the southern American landscapes that our inimitable pair traverse during their search for home. The story ends inconclusively, suggesting that a third sequel is in the offing from Andrew Motion. And why not?