I loved The Railway Children. I loved the film, and I loved the book. Husband and I lived for a couple of years in the village at the end of the railway line, and apparently the end of the film (“Daddy! My daddy!”) still reduces my 6 foot two, beardy, Northern brother to tears.
I re-watched the film with my children, of course, and then re-read Rainbow’s copy of the book. It’s a film that kept very true to the book (apart from a judicious cropping of a canal-barge-fire-rescue episode). (Take note, Peter Jackson. There are no girls in The Hobbit. )
So. Mother to Bobbie, Peter and Phil. What can we learn from her?
Well, she’s fun. She enjoys spending time with her children, and they enjoy her.
She’s brave. When her husband is whisked off to prison she doesn’t collapse. Oh no. She ups and offs to be poor in the country – bread and butter or bread and jam; worries about the doctor’s bill; only one servant (and she doesn’t live in). And she makes a living for herself, by herself.
She can be relied on. She takes in the tragic Russian, and the boy with the broken leg.
She speaks French. Beautifully.
She lives in the moment, too. When she sells a story, they have buns, to celebrate.
She lets her children take risks, even though it hurts her.
And I love her relationship with Bobbie. I love Bobbie.
It’s funny, re-reading a book you loved as a child when you are an adult. Your perspective changes so much. But the mother in this book is a real person. She’s fun, and brave, and can ice buns. But she also worries, is afraid, is hurt at times, and we catch glimpses of it. And it’s a relief for me when Bobbie discovers what the terrible secret is.
That is how family life is. Parents worry. Children pick up on that. It’s not a good thing, but it’s not a bad thing either. It just is how it is. And even though things aren’t always great we can still enjoy the buns.