Thursday, February 16, 2006

Book Review: The Tale of Hill Top Farm

Thanks to recommendations on the 4 Real Learning message board I took The Tale of Hill Top Farm by Susan Wittig Albert with me last weekend as light reading. This is the first book in a new mystery series blending fact with fiction. The heroine is real life Edwardian children's author and illustrator Beatrix Potter, and the setting the village of Sawrey in the Lake District where she spent her later years. The author populates the village with fictional characters and involves the newly arrived Miss Potter in solving various village mysteries and intrigues. As an added touch, she includes Beatrix Potter's pets (one hedgehog - Mrs Tiggywinkle - two rabbits and a mouse) and various village animals in the plot. Blending reality and fiction in this way is difficult to do; combining talking animals with a human mystery story is even harder. Susan Wittig Albert succeeds on both counts. The book is gentle, humorous and a thoroughly enjoyable light read. She captures Beatrix Potter beautifully (I'm no expert, but she is certainly recognisable from a biography I read a while ago), both Sawrey village and her invented characters come alive, and the animals are suitably Potter-esque. The mystery aspect of the book was a little on the thin side, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment. The second book in the series, The Tale of Holly How, is already available, and a third, The Tale of Cuckoo Brown Wood, is due for publication in the summer. As the books aren't available through our library system I will have to wait patiently for the paperback edition of Holly How to be published. I'm looking forward to it.

Quote: "I never eat anything I've been introduced to" (Tabitha Twitchit to Tom Thumb)

1 comment:

Pamela said...

Now I'm really looking forward to reading it!