Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Tale Of Hill Top Farm by Susan Wittig Albert

Genre: Cozy Mysteries

Beatrix Potter, author of many children’s books including the Tale of Peter Rabbit, seeks to make her own way in the world. She wants nothing more than to break away from her domineering parents and create her own life. That is not an easy task for an unwed woman in 1905, especially since Beatrix is still in mourning over the death of her fiancĂ©. Her first step towards independence is purchasing the Hill Top Farm from Abigail Tolliver.

Beatrix travels with her wide array of animals to the small village of Sawrey, London to inspect her new property, but is shocked to discover that Miss Tolliver suddenly died before her arrival. Whispers of a possible poisoning beginning spreading around the small town, then Beatrix notices a valuable painting is missing from Miss Tolliver’s home. Perhaps Ms. Tolliver’s death was not of natural causes but something far more sinister.

The citizens of Sawrey are very interested in their new resident, but they regard her with suspicion more than anything else. Beatrix’s first obstacle comes from the Jennings family who care for Hill Top Farm and live there as well. They make it quite clear that there is no room for Beatrix to move in, even if she does own the place. Beatrix sets about trying to find a solution for all concerned. This certainly didn’t turn out to be the quiet village she was expecting.

This book is delightful. That’s the perfect word for it. As I read the book, I was immediately transported to the small village and felt as if I was actually part of the story. Each character, both human and animal, were crafted with great expertise. They had remarkable characteristics and personalities to create this enchanting book.

The Tale of Hill top Farm is the first book in the series “The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter”. The animals communicate with each other, not with the humans, and there’s enough mystery intertwined to make readers continue turning each page until the end. The mystery portion of the book wasn’t especially “edge-of-your-seat”, but the entire story was very captivating and charming.

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