The title for this post could easily have been: How The Wind in the Willows took over my life. You think I’m being dramatic? Read on…
Reading The Wind in the Willows was something entirely magical. From the very first page, when I was squealing with delight at making Mr Mole’s acquaintance, I knew this book would occupy a very special place in my heart. It felt like it was written with the specific purpose of making me smile. In my opinion, it’s simply perfect, which is why it went to the top of my 5 favourite books of 2012. I think The Wind in the Willows is exactly the book that I would write, if I were a very talented writer, of course. I suspect that the brilliance of this book is that it probably makes others feel the same way, which is why I’m convinced that everyone, absolutely everyone, should read it.
I’d been meaning to read The Wind in the Willows for a long time; what motivated me to do it this past autumn was the fact that the Royal Opera House was staging a production of it that I was dying to see. It turns out that The Boy does actually listen to me when I talk; he surprised me with two tickets on my birthday. I was slightly concerned we were going to be the only two adults there without children but that was certainly not the case. I really enjoyed the show; it incorporated dance and narration and singing and even puppetry. It totally made me feel like a child again. I think they managed to capture the magic of the book and it made for a lovely outing right before Christmas.
Then a few weeks ago I was walking along Piccadilly on a break from a physics conference. Inevitably, I went into Hatchards and after a little browse at the P.G. Wodehouse table I was drawn to a display of various editions of The Wind in the Willows. This 100 year anniversary edition was impossible to resist. It has beautiful illustrations that are making me really excited to read it again. And because it’s so lovely, I didn’t want to just hide it away in a bookcase so it’s now being proudly displayed on our shelves.
You’d think the obsession would stop there but it didn’t. On my last visit to the Portobello Market I found this brilliant little stall with vintage prints and posters. I gravitated towards the vintage fashion illustrations, but nothing amazing caught my eye so I moved on to the book inspired ones. There was a whole section about The Wind in the Willows and I had a really hard time picking just one. In the end I chose this print (that I’ve yet to frame) of Ratty and Mole in the boat.
The Boy is always saying how he thinks of the book as set somewhere on the Cherwell, this little river that runs through Oxford. I have to say, there is something very calm and peaceful about this river that fits with the book, plus, the scenery in the prints does look a lot like this lovely spot on the Cherwell, don’t you think?
P.S. The Wind in the Willows was my top favourite book of 2012. If you are interested, here the rest of my favourites from last year.