Kenneth Grahame, ‘The Wind in the Willows’

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It is easy to assume that we have read a book simply because it is a classic when, in fact, we never quite got round to it. How many people, I wonder, have read the Paddington books, the Mary Poppins series, or even The Wind in the Willows?  We may have seen the movie but have we actually read the book?

If you haven’t yet read The Wind in the Willows, my suggestion is that you rush out and get yourself a copy. Then settle down and enjoy the read. It’s a great book, it’s beautifully written, and it has some wonderful chapters that are cut from most abridged, film or TV versions. It has been said that some of these chapters come close to being prose poems, so beautifully are they written.

The Wind in the Willows is an adventure story – Mole, Ratty, and Toad get themselves into (and out of) some real scrapes – but it is also a book about home. It begins with Mole leaving his home and setting out in search of a certain elusive something but that is not where the story ends.

He learnt to swim and to row, and entered into the joy of running water; and with his ear to the reed-stems he caught, at intervals, something of what the wind went whispering so constantly among them.

Mole’s quest to discover what the wind in the willows whispers is what makes this such a great book but that quest relies on the solid presence of home: Rat’s home; Badger’s refuge; Toad Hall. All these places are hugely important in the development of the plot. Mole may leave his own home but, throughout the novel, home is what he is searching for, even if he never quite finds it.

There is more – a great deal more – that could be said but that’s enough for one post. But if you want to read more of my thoughts on this theme, have a look at this article on C.S. Lewis, Tolkien and The Wind in the Willows.

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