Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Book Recommendation, "The Wind in the Willows"

I was in the mood for a classic when I went to the library last week, and I checked out The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. It was first published in England in 1908; Grahame, who was the secretary of the Bank of England, composed the stories for his son, Alastair. The Wind in the Willows is about the adventures of Mole, Rat, Badger, and the irrepressible Toad.

It all begins with the solitary Mole, who is in the midst of a good spring cleaning when he is filled with "the spirit of divine discontent and longing" to burrow up to the surface where there were animals closer to the sun and air. He rambles through meadows and hedgerows until he comes upon a river for the first time, and meets the river Rat, who is very kind and composes poetry. Soon he is meeting other animals and having adventures, living life on a greater stage. Attention turns to Toad for part of the book, who is full of enthusiasms and conceit and always doing things he shouldn't, but doesn't have the strength to resist. He gets into particular trouble with a motorcar, which lands him in prison and forces him to don a disguise as a washerwoman to escape. It's all a great lark and so quintessentially British, as my daughter noted.

I found the book to be charming and sentimental; my favourite chapter was "Dulce Domum," when Mole's abandoned home calls to him just before Christmas , and comes complete with mice Christmas carolers, mulled ale, and a feast. The book is all about friendship, nobility, the comforts of home, and grand adventures, and I recommend it as a vacation from modern society.

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