Book review of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
I have to start this review with a confession, I never read the full version of The Wind in the Willows when I was a child, I just read the abridged version, which is pictured above (and has glorious pictures in it). So, when I decided to start this blog, I thought it would be a good opportunity to read the full book and see how I felt about it as an adult. It's now out of copyright and so available for free (although I didn't realize this when I made my decision). So, reading this book with an adult's eyes, here's what I think.
The main characters are Mole, Rat (a water rat rather than the land-living sort) and, of course, (Mr) Toad and the three of them are beautifully drawn and blended together. Mole, is gentle, timid and, at the start of the book, completely uneducated in the ways of the world at large. Rat, by contrast, is highly sociable, knows everyone and hence gets to hear of everything which is going on. Toad starts the novel as conceited and foolish, but at the same time genuinely kind-hearted and, somehow, very likeable. As the book goes on, Mole grows more educated and more confident, while Toad, ultimately, learns to be a sensible toad. Rat is the only one of the three who doesn't really develop much as a character, but we do get a chance to see how he can be influenced by circumstances. Badger and Otter both play supporting roles, the former being he headmasterly figure and the latter essentially a comedy turn, plus, as the plot develops, we get to meet a whole host of minor characters, ranging from a kind-hearted young girl, to a barge woman who doesn't appreciate quality when she sees it. While a few of the most minor characters are caricatures, overall Kenneth Grahame does a much better job of creating engaging, believable personalities than some authors writing about humans.