Sunday, May 23, 2010

BOOK: The Tale of Hill Top Farm by Susan Wittig Albert

The Tale of Hill Top Farm by Susan Wittig Albert, 286 pages

Historical Mysteries

Cute little cozy mystery set in 1905, in the Lake District of England. Much of the novel is based on the true story of Beatrix Potter, author of the delightful children's books, like The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Albert takes some known facts of Beatrix Potter's life and then builds a whole village around what was known after she left her sheltered parents house. The list of characters at the beginning of the book make clear which characters are based on real people and which are made up. And what a delightful cast of characters populate the village of Near Sawrey!

The mystery is slim in this book, but that is not the appeal. The charm is in the relationships among the characters and the cats and dogs who also live in the town. They have meetings, discuss, and try to solve mysteries as well as the humans. It sounds too cute, but it plays just right. The animals always talked in italics, which helped keep the conversations straight. Miss Potter carries a menagerie of animals with her, so there is also the city mouse meets country mouse aspect to the story. I really liked how the animals played such a part in the plot, unknown to the human characters. The assumption that not much happens in a little village is all a matter of scale - disappearances, deaths, and inheritances take greater relevance when everyone knows everyone else.

Overall, a sweet little mystery. Fans of Beatrix Potter, historical mysteries, English countrysides, and cats would enjoy.

also reviewed:
framed at framed and booked (has the first few books reviewed)
nan at letters from a hill farm (at first I thought her farm was the same name)