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THE TALE OF CUCKOO BROW WOOD
by Susan Wittig Albert
Berkley, February 2007
352 pages
$6.99
ISBN: 0425215067


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

When Miss Beatrix Potter arrives back on her own Hill Top Farm, she finds that the rat population has exploded. It seems that one of her more accommodating rats had permitted her friend and relatives to move in, and thus the rat population has gotten out of control. Miss Potter has fond memories of a pet rat from her childhood and so has to be urged by her friends to invite some good professional rat-catching cats to do their job and get rid of the ever-increasing rat population.

There's also something strange going on with the human inhabitants of the village. Visiting relatives, of whom he has no real recollection, are pestering the quiet vicar. They are eating him out of house and home. Also, well-liked Major Christopher Kittredge, the master of Raven Hall who was terribly wounded by the war, has returned home with a wife of wild beauty and unknown origins. She in turn has brought a business friend who plans on building many houses around Lake Windermere, thereby ruining the bucolic loveliness of the town. In addition, some of the town's pre-teens are on the hunt for fairies. They are sure the fairies will give them their most heartfelt wish if asked properly.

Less a mystery and more a book of whimsy, where all the animals speak to each other and have definite views of life, where fairies and half-fairy people very well might exist and where good triumphs over the ever trying forces of evil, THE TALE OF CUCKOO BROW WOOD is a gentle and sweet tale of what the life of the lady who wrote the famous children's books might have been like.

The author, Susan Wittig Albert, has used the basic outline of true historical events in the life of Beatrix Potter and has written a tender tale that includes all the details of the long-ago time period. The readers get to know what life was like at the turn of the century, how automobiles were introduced into that small village, how the people viewed recent historical events and how women's rights were becoming a part of life. Recipes of favorite dishes are also included and so we all finally learn a good way to make bubble and squeak, sticky buns and we learn exactly what pease porridge, of the rhyme, really is.

THE TALE OF CUCKOO BROW WOOD is a soft book written for grown-ups who have not forgotten how to believe in fairies or in the power of the imagination. There are no murders here or dead bodies, just a mild and kind story about life in Edwardian England. It's a lovely way to spend an afternoon reading.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, December 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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