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