Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Margaux and I always seem to be inspiring each other to buy books (to both of our husbands’ chagrin). I sometimes wonder if it is an unspoken competition- I’ve seen her library and I can’t tell who’s winning but I did get a 10 year head start on the children‘s books.

Joan Aiken 1962

It was dusk- winter dusk. Snow lay white and shining over the pleated hills, and icicles hung from the forest trees. Snow lay piled on the dark road across Willoughby Wold, but from dawn men had been clearing it with brooms and shovels. There were hundreds of them at work, wrapped in sacking because of the bitter cold, and keeping together in groups for fear of the wolves, grown savage and reckless from hunger.

Last month I spied in the front seat of Margaux’s car Black Hearts in Battersea which led me to The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (The Wolves Chronicles) (which I happily found for a $1 the next day at the used bookstore). I started it on a Friday night and finished it Saturday while sitting outside on my patio with the wind gusting away at my clothesline and four black-caped 12 year old girls running through the yard re-enacting Harry Potter. So a story of Victorian children, wicked governesses and a grand estate with secret passageways seemed a good fit for the afternoon. Madeleine read it the next day and liked it too. I knew it would be her cup of tea.

He spoke with a pleasant country burr.  Sylvia, lying drowsy on her heap of leaves, thought that his voice had a comfortable, brown, furry sound to it.

But Bonnie, with choking utterance, demanded, "Why are you wearing my mother's dress?" 

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