Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Book Report/The Tale of Hill Top Farm
In 1905, a few short weeks after her fiancé died, Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top Farm in the Lake District of England. In the eight years thereafter, she visited often but did not settle there until 1913 when she married William Heelis. Susan Wittig Albert is writing a cozy mystery for each of these eight years. They are called The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and the first in the series, published in 2004, is The Tale of Hill Top Farm. This is my second reading of the book, and this time I listened to an unabridged audiobook read by Virginia Leishman.
The author spent a lot of time researching Beatrix Potter for this series, and the book is a fascinating combination of real life and fantasy. Not only does Miss Potter seem exactly right, but Albert has the animals talk. I think in my heart of hearts I have always hoped that they do talk to one another, and that they try talking to us, but we just can't hear them. This device in the novel works. It isn't cutesy. Rather it is just matter of fact; of course they talk.
There is a mystery, but mostly the book is about the area, village life, and Beatrix Potter. It couldn't be more pleasant. The author has a really beautiful and informational website with maps, descriptions, and drawings.
Like the English-country-life novels of Miss Read and Angela Thirkell, Albert's Beatrix Potter books are balm for the soul and entertaining forerunners to a good night's sleep.