The Big Read

No. 16 – The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame Read ??/08/13

After I had read the only book on the list I owned I went on Amazon and bought all the ones I could get for free on Kindle. That is one of my favourite things about having a Kindle, is it public domain? Then there is probably a free version on Amazon (side note watch for foreign translations though, I read Les Miserables like this and it was God awful).

As there were a lot of rather heavy classics now in my possession I decided to ease myself back into reading with the lighter ones first so I picked The Wind in the Willows. I vaguely remembered a cartoon from my childhood and I knew my older brother had been terrified of the weasels but that was all I had going into the book.

Goodness me did I love it! I am from the rural countryside and this book could’ve been about the fields near my house. It is so wonderfully evocative of rural life in times gone by but at the same time it captures the wildlife in human form. The reclusive, wise Mr. Badger, the friendship between Ratty and Mole and of course the infamous Mr. Toad with his selfish mischievous ways. The human qualities of the characters match the behaviours of the animals themselves in a way which is like an ‘in-joke’ for country folk as it would probably go over the heads of the townies. The setting is idyllic; it always feels sunny in this book. Plus, there is action and adventure and things go wrong in spectacular fashion.

For me it had a wonderful feeling of nostalgia, of better days when you could just punt along the river to your heart’s content, visit friends and eat splendid food washed down with lots and lots of tea. It is the kind of world I long to inhabit. I quite often find with this sort of classic that the pace is slow and I have to force myself to keep reading but this wasn’t the case at all with The Wind in the Willows. There were times when the pace would slow and the narrative would focus in on the little details of the characters lives but then, a twist (gasp) and once again we would be off to rescue Mr. Toad or show those pesky weasels who was boss. For a book from 1908 to keep me engaged as this one did is really an achievement.

I really suggest you read it and there is no excuse because you can get it free on Kindle. The only downside is a book such as this cries out for illustrations, although it was originally published without, so I am going to keep my eyes pealed for a second hand edition which is beautifully illustrated.

Rating: 4/5

Would recommend to: read in the summer, outdoors when the sun is shining.

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