these are the 249th & 250th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
The Willows at Christmas (2001) and The Willows In Winter ( 1994) by William Horwood, St. Martin, (US) hardcovers, illustrated by Patrick Benson
Wish no more, there is, and these books are just as well written, the beloved characters spot-on delightful, the Patrick Benson illustrations are top notch. These are every bit as joyous to read as the original. That’s no mean feat when writing a sequel to a classic, but Horwood has done it with these delightful books.
The Willows at Christmas is set not too long after the original book, at – of course – Christmas time. Mole wonders why the river bank residents are so low-key about the holiday, especially Toad. It turns out his former nanny’s daughter decends on Toad Hall for the Christmas holidays through Twelfth Night and she rules with an iron hand. He allows this because… well, you’ll have to read the book, won’t you? Fortunately, Mole, Ratty, Otter and Badger come to the rescue, but things aren’t straightened out until some harrowing events takes place. A wonderful story.
The Willows in Winter is a sequel to Wind in the Willows, and the familiar characters are all here in a new adventure. First Mole gets lost in a blizzard and must be found. Then, if you recall Toad’s lack of control once at the wheel of a motorcar, in the original book, then you can well imagine what happens when ha buys an areoplane! After a few flying lessons, he loses patience and thinks he’s ready to go solo. Once again his friends must come to his rescue, though with some reservations about it.
I first discovered Horwood when I came across his Duncton Wood many years ago. There are several books in that series, some of which I have yet to acquire as they are very difficult to find, but those I have managed to obtain I’ve enjoyed.
I’d be hard pressed to think of another author who’s such a good fit with Grahame’s style and vision for these novels about the beloved Ratty, Mole, Badger and of course Toad. Immensely enjoyable.