Review: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

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Far from fading with time, Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale of fantasy has attracted a growing audience in each generation. Rat, Mole, Badger and the preposterous Mr Toad (with his ‘Poop-poop-poop’ road-hogging new motor-car), have brought delight to many through the years with their odd adventures on and by the river, and at the imposing residence of Toad Hall. Grahame’s book was later dramatised by A. A. Milne, and became a perennial Christmas favourite, as Toad of Toad Hall. It continues to enchant and, above all perhaps, inspire great affection.

I had a lot of nostalgia going into this book, which was unexpected actually. I must have read some kind of version of this story as a child as I remembered certain aspects of it really clearly. I don’t remember reading a specific version or watching a film adaptation, but I have clear memories of the characters and setting.

I really loved the setting of the book and it felt so vivid and beautiful. The river felt very reminiscent of spring and captured the atmosphere perfectly. Although I really liked the setting and houses of the characters, some of it did feel slightly nonsensical to me. Much like a lot of children’s classics I’ve read, I feel like this kind of silliness is the kind that really grabs children’s attention but feels a little lost on me now.

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing –

I really enjoyed reading about the friendship between these characters, but I ended up disliking Toad a lot. He is narcissistic and pretentious throughout the second half of the book, and any redemption is too little, too late for me. Sadly this made me lose interest in a lot of the second half of the story and miss the cozy companionship of Mole and Badger.

I listened to the audiobook of this from Recorded Books on Scribd, and I really liked the version I listened to. Not only was the narrator brilliant and gave a lovely tone to the story, but he also sang some of the songs. This may seem like a tiny thing to notice, but I often find myself disappointed when songs and poems are read out in monotone, so this stood out to me as something extra special.

absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

Overall, this definitely wasn’t my favourite classic but also wasn’t unlikable. I wouldn’t go into it expecting a wild ride, but more a slow meander down the river in spring.

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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