Friday, 31 August 2012

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - Grandad Africa's Review

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

Guest Review by Grandad Africa

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is a good adventure story for children. The story is about a rich aristocratic family whose children found themselves (by devious means) in a workhouse. The story was about how they could regain their original lifestyle. This involved overcoming hurdles that included unsavoury and criminal minds and the constant fear about marauding wolves.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase was first published in 1962. It has a nineteenth century setting and the author was able to bring some sociological factors about the different social and economic diversity that existed at that time into the story. It reads like a Dickensian novel diluted to suit young child readers. For example, it is cut back in size, detail and terminology compared to Dickens. Some of the vocabulary included words that a child might not know but there is a glossary at the back to help readers. After the early first few pages the read becomes quite child friendly. 

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase seems to be a pick and mix from different literary styles that the author has pasted together in one adventure story suitable for children. The storyline and events in the story are made up and fairly incredulous.  For me, it lacked credibility but I think children would read it at face value. For example, they might think that England really was covered in wolves in the 1800s and that the channel tunnel was already built (there is a note at the beginning which says the novel is set in a period of history that never happened but I think children may be confused by this).

The back section in this edition is most useful and may be essential to bring clarity and accuracy to the story. It covers a brief description of the main characters, there’s a quiz, it tells you about the author and it tells you what it really was like to travel around Britain in the 1830s: so gives a true perspective on the history of that time.

Publication details:
Vintage, August 2012, London, paperback

This copy: received for review from the publishers

Book Giveaway!!!

UK residents can win a copy of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (or another title from the Vintage Children's Classis range) here

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