Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Tale of Applebeck Orchard-Susan Wittig Albert

The Tale of Applebeck Orchard
Susan Wittig Albert
Berkley, Sep 2009, $23.95
ISBN: 9780425229774

In 1910 Miss Beatrix Potter is able to get away from her parents who are vacationing at a vacation spot in the Lake District. She goes to her properties in the Land Between the lakes, Hill Top Farm and Castle Farm, which is where her heart belongs. Miss Potter is accepted by the villagers as one of them although she is only a part-time resident.

Trouble is brewing in the hamlet when Mr. Harmsworth barricades the foot path running through his property, Applebeck Farm. He claims he did it because someone lit a fire to his hayloft; either an enemy or a day-tripper (tourist to you non Beatles’ fans). The truth is someone wants to buy his property but only if the foot path is closed. Miss Potter learns from Harmsworth’s orphaned teenaged niece Gilly that she saw someone from her window in a cape with a cowl carrying an old fashion lantern. In between helping her friends, Miss Potter figures out who he arranged the sale to, but not before another fire ruins a place of business shocking the small community.

Whimsical, fanciful and magical describes this precious tale in which the creatures of different species talk to each other and Bosworth Badger XVII owns the Brockery, an animal hostelry on Holly Hew where they come to relax. There is a bit of romance as Miss Potter and solicitor William Heelis begin to understand their feelings for each other although each tries to conceal their attraction as her high society parents would disapprove of him and for that matter any suitor as they plan on their only offspring to care for them in their dotage. Once again Susan Wittig Albert provides her audience with a charming cottage tale of Beatrix Potter.

Harriet Klausner