Monday, September 29, 2008

The Tale of Hawthorn House

I’m not a huge fan of talking animals in mystery books, but when it comes to Susan Wittig Albert’s The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, I make an exception. It can be that I’m huge fan of Beatrix Potter. Or it just can be that I find the whole series charming, warm and cosy. Perfect books to be devoured on weekends.

And that’s what I did with the fourth book of the series, The Tale of Hawthorne House. I devoured it.

Here’s the blurb:
Beatrix Potter receives an unexpected -- and possibly-term -- visitor in the form of Baby Flora, left in a basket on her doorstep with a note, a sprig of hawthorn, a scarab ring. No one in Sawrey has recently become a parent, so Captain Miles Woodcock deduces that the child must belong to the band of gypsies camped just outside of town.

But the gypsies deny knowing anything about the child -- or the mysterious ring inscribed to R.K., Forever. Further investigation reveals that the ring was pawned and reclaimed in Sawrey by a resident of Hawthorn House. The legendary manor is supposed to be vacant -- and is rumoured to be haunted. Now, Beatrix and her animal friends are left pondering the possibility of fairy-folk involvement in these utterly puzzling happenings…

What’s not to love about this book? It has great characters (both human and animal), the setting is breathtaking (Lake District), and there isn’t any gore or blood. It's warm and cosy, and it made me smile and laugh. I can understand those who think the talking animals childish, but I find them charming. A different side of a genre that I absolutely love.

The author gives us a glimpse on the life of these characters, their interests, the gossip, their prejudices against a certain group of people and unwed mothers. Even their beliefs of what a female could or could not do. It's very interesting, but also a little maddening. But that's the beauty of reading historical fiction.

There’s a bonus in this story. They are a couple of budding romances going on. Finally!

The Tale of Hawthorn House by Susan Wittig Albert (4/5) Historical Mystery; Published: Berkley (2007); Series: # 4, The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter; Fall Into Reading 2008 (1); 100 + Reading Challenge (67); Library book;

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