Horwood, William The Willows at Christmas

ISBN 13: 9780001054073

The Willows at Christmas

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9780001054073: The Willows at Christmas

Toad, Mole, Ratty and Badger return once more in a special Christmas tale from the bestselling author of The Willows in Winter, Toad Triumphant and The Willows and Beyond.

The Tales of the Willows sequence – in which William Horwood returned to the idyllic setting of The Wind in the Willows and brought back Kenneth Grahame’s much-loved characters, began in 1993, with the The Willows in Winter, which immediately caught the imagination of the public. The series continued with Toad Triumphant and was brought to a conclusion with The Willows and Beyond.

Now, in The Willows at Christmas, William Horwood has created a spellbinding new tale especially for Christmas which takes place after the events in The Wind in the Willows but before The Willows in Winter.

As the story opens, the normally bumptious Toad is not looking forward to Christmas one bit. Every year the dreaded Mrs Ffleshe comes to stay at Toad Hall. And every year she does all she can to protect Toad from the dangers of over-indulgence, despite his protestations.

The daughter of the nanny who made Toad Senior’s life a misery years before, Mrs Ffleshe feels it is her duty to take the errant younger Toad under her wing to save him from himself.

This year, however, his loyal friends Mole, Ratty, Badger and Otter plan to rescue Toad from his unwanted guardian. Yet their efforts serve only to goad him into his most mischievous behaviour, and it seems as if Mole and Toad will be spending their Christmas together – in the Village gaol.

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"Water?" cried Toad, turning and turning about in his distress. "What can water do against the awful might of Mrs Ffleshe? Niagara Falls would not trouble her nor a regiment of Hussars subdue her! Arsenic would be as ambrosia to such a one as she, and a stake in the heart would merely be taken as encouragement."
It's coming up to Christmas on the River Bank, and that domesticated culinary supremo, Mr. Mole of Mole End is disturbed by the absence of anything resembling festive spirit in the environs. He's sure that there's a deep dark reason behind the decision of his friends Ratty, Badger, Otter and the aristocratic Toad of Toad Hall to turn down his invitation for Christmas at Mole End.

He's almost right. "It" is a shallow, plump reason--Mrs Ffleshe, Toad's tyrannical and thoroughly imposed Christmas house guest, who casts her terrible shadow over Toad Hall, the Riverbank and the Village, forcing animals and humans alike into a state of misery from which only the vicious and untrustworthy weasels and stoats benefit.

The Willows at Christmas is the tale of the Mole's heroic fight, against the odds, for a merry Christmas, in which he's valiantly assisted by the other River bankers, Toad's dedicated and resourceful housekeeper Mrs Bugle, and a selection of downtrodden villagers. Lots of nastiness,(including an extraordinary variety of torture instruments and a generous range of mother-in-law jokes), lots of inventiveness (see extraordinary variety of torture instruments again) and ultimately redemptive. Gorgeously illustrated (including full-page colour pix) by Patrick Benson, this is holiday reading for the young- and-nostalgic at heart. --Lisa Gee


‘Lovers of The Wind in the Willows will feel at home and will laugh a lot with sheer pleasure.’
The Times on The Willows in Winter

‘The old friends are just as they always were.’
Daily Telegraph on The Willows in Winter

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