Monday, December 05, 2016

THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE





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The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Joan Aiken, Doubleday & Company, 1962, 168 pp


THE SUNDAY FAMILY READ


I have read 10 novels by Joan Aiken. I love both her adult stories and the ones for children. She was born in East Sussex, England, in 1924, was the daughter of the poet Conrad Aiken, and died in 2004. She wrote her first novel, The Kingdom and the Cave, when she was 17 and continued to write for her entire life. She portrays children in wondrous ways, similar to Elizabeth Goudge but with magic and supernatural elements instead of religious ones.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is the first in her 11 book series The Wolves Chronicles. The series is set in an alternative history of Britain, but not knowing British history well myself, that barely matters to me. What I love are the children and the story.

Two girls, one rich and exuberant, the other poor but wise, are cousins who have more exciting adventures daily than most girls have yearly. Dangers barely escaped, cruel adults outwitted, loyalty and bravery, are the keys to the tale. The parents are not neglectful, just rather oblivious in their trust of servants and governesses, but also kind and generous. A rather feral boy, reminiscent of Spiller in The Borrowers series, is their champion.

This is breathless, page turning stuff intentionally created to thrill and entertain young readers and probably laid the ground for the best in children's literature today. It makes me happy that I still have dozens of her books left to read, including retellings of all six Jane Austen novels.

The Wolves Chronicles series would make a great holiday gift for enthusiastic female young readers. 


(The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

12 comments:

  1. Sounds like good YA fun.

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    1. Good fun but actually for even younger readers; what we called 8-12 at the bookstore where I worked, meaning readers aged 8 years old to 12 years old, also known as "young readers." I am of course much older than that and I loved the book, so maybe it is for young-at-heart readers!

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  2. Sounds like quite an author -- very prolific, with a huge imagination. How could I have missed her stories? I will try her books out, thanks.

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    1. Let me know what you think when you do.

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  3. It has been many years now, but I do have fond memories of reading this back in school. I really must get re-read this and try the rest of the series.

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    1. I think the whole series will be, like this one was, quick reads when life is busy.

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  4. Somehow I missed out on reading this book as a child, but I love the sound of it and am hoping I'll still be able to enjoy it as an adult!

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  5. I seem to remember my children reading some of these books when they were growing up. I haven't read them but perhaps I should.

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    1. Or you could read some of her novels for adults. Two that I particularly liked are Midnight Is A Place and The Weeping Ash.

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  6. This is an author I would like to discover. Sounds terribly fun :)

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    1. These Wolves books you can read in a day! Lots of fun.

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