Monday, August 6, 2007

The Lure of Biggles

I have been quite stressed at work lately so I decided to head for comfort reading - digging up old favourites. Interestingly, rather than head for humour as my husband tends to do, I tend to go for old favourite authors in the adventure category when I have limited bandwidth. I re-read a whole set of Biggles books, in any old order since at present my library is in a shambles and not organised enough to keep books of a type together. From the one where he first turns up in France to fly to the ones where he is an accomplished Ace to ones where he is outwitting a specific enemy of the 'Hun' type and those where he is merely fighting off a bunch of's great bedtime reading.

I found myself wondering what was the appeal of these. To me, first of all, I love reading books about the World Wars - II preferred to I, but either will do. Then, the characters are straight-forward. No bellyaching about their motivations or tortured thought-processes. Simple credo really - fight for your country, defend your friends, go off at half-cock if someone throws you a challenge or implies that you can't do such and such. Don't flinch at danger. And always be up for a bit of fun and adventure.

The stories range across a wide canvas geographically and in terms of specific situations and cast of villains. Characterisation is not the hallmark of these stories - the surrounding cast is pretty mich interchangeable, apart from one or two sidekicks and villains. The stories have a racy pace and display a nice sense of humour and irony from time to time.

But ultimately what gets me is the feel-good payoff - the good guys always win!

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