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Customer Review

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is eight really enough?, September 19, 2011
This review is from: The Tale of Castle Cottage (The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter) (Hardcover)
What a joy! What a true literary joy it is to return to the Land between the Lakes, to visit the Victorian-Age households owned by children's author Beatrix Potter, and to eavesdrop on the everyday conversations of the people and the animals of the area. The books in this Cottage Tales series always offer a welcome respite from the complex cares of 21st-century life.

This episode has multiple plotlines to follow. The year is 1913, and Miss Potter has arranged for some construction to be done on her second major property, the Castle Farm. The job seems to cost more and to take longer than she ever anticipated, however. She's got to look into that matter, and perhaps request the aid of her fiancé, Will Heelis, in remedying the situation. (Speaking of Will: will the couple EVER get married? Or will family disdain and interference get the better of both of them?) In the meantime, the community appears to be on the edge of a full-fledged invasion by some nasty rats. It may be up to the neighborhood animals to deal with these rodent-thieves, who are robbing the humans of both trinkets and edibles. Add to these problems the sudden death of a good man, and all of the inhabitants must stop to consider the reasons and the ramifications of the act. It is indeed a busy time in this otherwise bucolic English landscape.

This historical fiction/cozy mystery distinguishes itself by being based on the story of a real-life author, told in the style that she herself used while writing her own Peter Rabbit tales. The text is replete with marvelous humor and delightful turns of phrase. (Example from page 99: "[Dimity] had ended up in the arms of Christopher Kittredge -- well, one arm, since the fellow, a war hero, had left the other with the Boers.") Yes, there are talking animals (and if you can't handle those italicized asides, then you'd best not pick up any volume in this series). There's also a personal narrator, who at times feels free to politely intrude and to interrupt the action to approach the reader directly and to offer inside observations. You might have to "suspend your disbelief" a bit; but when you do, all of these elements add up to much merry reading.

This time the additional explanatory material supplied by the author at the book's conclusion very neatly ties every loose end and supplies a worthy wrap-up of Beatrix's biography. Can we handle the fact that this eighth installment is the LAST ONE in the run? Susan Wittig Albert's writing continues with several other mystery series, so she obviously has other non-Beatrix Potter tales to tell. I certainly wish her well in all of her endeavors. But I can't help feeling a small sense of loss that we'll have no more new adventures from Bea, Will, Rascal, Crumpet, Bosworth, Hyacinth, and all of the rest. And what, no more Badger Rules of Thumb?!? Bye-bye, Near and Far Sawrey. Our time together has indeed been both fun and educational.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 3, 2012, 7:18:45 PM PST
What a nicely done review. I have been debating whether or not to start this series. You have pushed me over the line. Thanks for taking the time to write this one.
don
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