The Classics Club: The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows

After reading the rather epic David Copperfield by Charles Dickens I was looking for a lighter classic. Looking at my to-be-read pile and my Classics Club list, the children’s classic The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame instantly jumped out at me.

One sunny Spring morning Mole leaves his cleaning, in exasperation, to follow an inexplicable call to the open ground above. Enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, Mole walks all morning until he reaches the banks of the river where he meets Ratty, the river rat, and his little boat. From that day on a whole new life opens up for Mole; full of new friends, colourful characters, and adventure. Many adventures are on the river, others in the Wild Wood and one rather unpleasant one on the road in a little canary-yellow wagon! One adventure sees him fighting a gang of stoats and another involved a nature deity. Life is never to be the same again.

I am a sucker for a talking, furry animal so this book just plays into my hands. First we have the reliable Mole who meets jolly Ratty, then the fatherly Badger and the crazy Mr Toad (okay, he’s not so furry). It is Mr Toad’s actions and personality that instigate many of the adventures and cause a whole lot of trouble, which Badger, Ratty and Mole have to clear up! I have fond memories of these wonderfully eccentric and quintessentially British characters from my childhood; as I am sure many other readers do.

When I decided to put this on my Classics Club list I was unsure whether to class it as a re-read or not. I know I owned a copy of this as a child and I do have fond memories of its iconic characters, but I remembered little to nothing of the story really. As I read this I recognised the pleasant Summer days spent on the river, the adventure in the little canary-yellow wagon, and Mr Toad’s obsession with cars! The rest though felt brand new for me. Thus reading this had a comforting mixture of familiarity and exploration; which was nice. I can imagine this being an utterly magical read for a child and it was still a very enjoyable read for an adult (who is young at heart) too.

The Wind in the Willows is a charming, British children’s classic. If you like furry, talking animals and adventures I’m sure you’ll love this too. Good read.

Have you read this? Who is your favourite character?

The Classics Club – 39/50


16 thoughts on “The Classics Club: The Wind in the Willows

  1. I had this book as a child and never read it; now I’m sad that I no longer own a copy of it because I think I would really enjoy it. Isn’t that the way it goes? 🙂

    1. Lark, that is the way it goes! I had a copy of this as a child too, which I don’t know what happened to, so I was pleased to find this really cute copy recently in my favourite charity bookshop 🙂

  2. I don’t think I ever read this one. I have always been aware of it and my husband, who works for Disney, did some work on Mr Toad’s Wild Ride. I think I have even been on the ride. This would be a good one for when I am weary of thinking heavy thoughts and need something light.

  3. I read it many years ago and I believe my favourite character was Ratty, though I did like the role of Mr Toad in the story. Regarding re-read or not I think it depends on how much you remember and how long it was – it’ll always technically be a re-read but if it’s going to feel like a completely new book it’s of a special sort.

    1. Charlie, this was a special sort of re-read. If I go by my first, gut instinct then I think Ratty is my favourite character too, but they are all wonderful characters 🙂

  4. My mum LOVES Toad, we used to watch this on TV when I was a kid, I think it was a film adaption of the book. Haven’t gotten around to reading it yet though, maybe when I have kids!

  5. I love this story – it just has a lovely whimsical feel and I read it when I was younger and then again as an adult – and still really enjoyed it. I can’t actually think who my favourite character would be tbh.
    Lynn 😀

  6. I really enjoyed this one, though I came to it late as I never read it as a child. I also enjoyed the adaptation, I tjink it was a more recent one, last 10 years or so, with actors not pixar or sth.

    1. Bina, I am pleased to hear you enjoyed this as an adult too 🙂 Yes there was a 2006 adaptation. I remember it starred Matt Lucas as Mr Toad and it looked rather hilarious, but sadly I’ve never got round to watching it!

  7. It’s always been a bit of a tie between Ratty and Mole for me – Ratty because he’s so sensible, and Mole because he’s so emotional! I love the whole book, but the chapters where it’s mainly just those two are my favourite bits – when they go off to look for young Portly, when Ratty gets all excited at the thought of going to sea, when Mole suddenly scents his old home… aah! So glad you enjoyed it!

    1. I know what you mean, I love Ratty and Mole’s scenes together! It is also very hard to pick between them too; if I go with my first instinct I would say Ratty is my favourite of the two but I couldn’t tell you exactly why 😀

  8. I also had a copy of this book as a child, and like you, I remember the characters but not much of the story. I would like to read it again one day too.

    1. Helen, it is comforting to hear I am not the only one vague on the story of this book. There really must be something special about these characters for us to have remembered them alone 🙂

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