The Railway Children by E. Nesbit is set in the English countryside, but it very well could have been anywhere in India too. The story is about three children whose father is suddenly taken away and they are forced to move into the countryside from their London home. Their mother rents a small cottage and Roberta, Phyllis and Peter aged, 12,10 and 8, have a wonderful time as they discover the newness of living in the country as opposed to their city life.
They live next to a railway track and watch trains go past everyday, as their mother struggles to earn a living by writing stories. The three children run to wave at the passengers each time and often the people wave back at them.
Over time they become friends with the village people, learn many things about trains and help to solve mysteries. One day they befriend one particular gentleman on the train and thus begins an adventure which finally unravels the mystery of their father’s sudden disappearance…
The Railway Children is one of the most endearing children’s novels to be published so far. Edith Nesbit Bland(1858-1924), was a prolific writer, having produced over 40 works by herself and collaborated with other writers on many more. She writes in a simple engaging style that endears her to both adults and children.
Her other well-known works include, Five Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet, The Story of the Amulet, The Enchanted Castle and The House With No Address.
These three lucky children always had everything they needed: pretty clothes, good fires, a lovely nursery with heaps of toys, and a Mother Goose wall-paper. They had a kind and merry nursemaid, and a dog who was called James, and who was their very own. They also had a Father who was just perfect—never cross, never unjust, and always ready for a game—at least, if at any time he was not ready, he always had an excellent reason for it, and explained the reason to the children so interestingly and funnily that they felt sure he couldn’t help himself.
You will think that they ought to have been very happy.
And so they were, but they did not know how happy till the pretty life in the Red Villa was over and done with, and they had to live a very different life indeed.