The Willows at Christmas (Tales of the Willows)

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9780006510260: The Willows at Christmas (Tales of the Willows)

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 twelve days of Christmas are fast approaching and Mole is planning to enjoy every one of them with his River Bank friends. So when the normally cheerful Mr Toad despairs at the arrival of Mrs Ffleshe, a quite impossibly rude house guest, Mole must do something about it. But the plan he hatches with Ratty, Badger and Otter to rescue Toad goes horribly wrong. With the prospect of Christmas in gaol and a trial for capital offences soon to follow, Mole will have to work hard if he is to salvage something of the Christmas spirit for his friends…

The Willows at Christmas is the crowning achievement of William Horwood’s masterly cycle of sequels to Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. The new story is set just after the original but before Horwood’s critically acclaimed The Willows in Winter, which so brilliantly brought the much-loved River Bankers back to life. It will give pleasure to countless readers around the world who have revelled in each new work, and capture the loyalty and imagination of many new readers.

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Review:

"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

Review:

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

‘The old friends are just as they always were.’
Daily Telegraph

‘Patrick Benson’s drawings are superb successors to those of E.H. Shepard.’
Independent

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