Thursday, July 16, 2009
The Tale of Applebeck Orchard - simply delightful!
Oh to live in a simpler day and time! When all folks had to worry about was if the Vicar were about to get married, if the crops would be good this year or if the ferry would ever arrive on schedule.
In Susan Wittig Albert’s latest installment of her Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter series, “The Tale of Applebeck Orchard,” pre-World War I England seems to be a paradise of calmness and serenity. Sure there are rumblings of a possible war and the country is getting used to a new monarch. But for the people (and the animals) of the Land Between The Lakes, nothing is more urgent than the fact that the Applebeck footpath between Near and Far Sawry has been barricaded by its owner with no thought for anyone in the community.
Grouchy ol’ Mr. Harmsworth owns Applebeck Orchard, where a public path has existed for years for the townsfolk to cut a few steps off their journeys. After a suspicious fire takes one of Harmsworth’s haystacks, the farmer immediately jumps to conclusions that the perpetrator is one of the many who cross his land, and he shuts the way off permanently. But reliable witnesses beg to differ, saying the fire was caused by the ghost who haunts Applebeck Orchard, bringing bad tidings to the town.
It’s up to Beatrix, her friends and neighbors, and a few of the town’s reliable and clever animals to solve the mystery and to see that the path is reopened once again.
Meanwhile, as the village folks dither on about the footpath, Bosworth Badger has a problem of his own to solve. His heir to the Badger Badge of Authority has gone missing and he must find a replacement fairly soon, as he isn’t getting any younger. To his, and others, surprise the likely candidate turns out to be the very smart Hyacinth Badger. Could she be the first female to hold the badge of honor?
In a delightful and unique fashion, Susan Wittig Albert brings a sense of joy mixed with a dash of suspense in her cozy mysteries set in the time of beloved children’s author Beatrix Potter. Incorporating the voice of the narrator who tells the tale in a comfortable and friendly fashion, as well as the voices of the village cats, dogs, and horses, Albert spins an intriguing yarn that Miss Potter herself would be proud of. “The Tale of Applebeck Orchard” is the sixth title in this series, and each one is more delightful than the last.