1 May 2013


With many thanks to Kelly for sending this ..... Husband dearest was right you can make good friends on-line.


In this the first of the Cottage Tales, animal lover and all-around Good Samaritan Beatrix Potter, author of Peter Rabbit, is ready to help solve local mysteries. And with her entourage of animal friends, she sets out to win over the human hearts of Sawrey ......

England, 1905. A Londoner - a female Londoner - has just bought a farm in rural Sawrey. The locals don't know what to make of Beatrix Potter. They've never heard of an unwed woman buying and running a farm. Some meet her with genuine warmth; others keep her at arm's length. Beatrix, recovering from the death of her fiance, believes she can heal in the countryside, a quiet place to work on her children's stories. But when a villager dies unexpectedly, with allegations of foul play, Sawrey turns out to be anything but quiet .....
....... Outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): It was a splendid morning in October when Miss Abigail Tolliver departed this world - one of those brilliant, breezy days that sets the heart singing and stirs the blue English lakes and the blue English sky into a grand and glorious celebration of clouds and color.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 89): "What are they saying?" he asked. Tabitha knew he didn't have much respect for mice and had never bothered to learn their language.

MY THOUGHTS: Part one in what I believe is a series of 8 books, whilst I felt that The Tale Of Hill Top Farm had many things to recommend it there were some things that troubled me.

Not normally one to quibble about the use of American spellings - why should I be when so many of the books I read are by American authors - it did however seem incongruous to me that a book featuring the quintessentially British novelist, Beatrix Potter, should be riddled with such spellings (Color, Organize, Neighbor ...... I could go on but won't).

Not my main gripe though. Not something I will go into at any great length about here BUT given my views on keeping hedgehogs as 'pets' suffice to say the very mention did considerably mar my enjoyment of the book.

Anyway, pet hedgehogs aside. I loved the fact that the animals were given a voice (not that they were understood by humans you understand, only by each other), that their conversations were written in italics so that it was easy to identify that it was Crumpet the cat or Rascal the dog or one of the other animals who was speaking rather than any of the myriad of human characters who by the way almost without exception had such wonderfully quaint names.

A gentle, one could even say, genteel read set in the English Lake District (not 80 miles from where I live). Apart from the cosy mystery at the heart of the story I loved the biographical glimpses into Beatrix's life, of how the author managed to convey that here was a woman yearning for love and independence and yet, at the same time, in many ways a woman of her time, a woman who felt somewhat duty bound to obey her parents wishes.

KEEP IT OR NOT?: One for the shelves but not before I've shared it.

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Sandy M. said...

Thank you for the book review Tracy! :) We have English spellings here in Australia too - I'm glad to be reminded that of course we are not the only ones! :)

StarTraci said...

How interesting! I am always suspect when someone takes on characters of classic books so I'm glad to see she did well. You're right, though, Beatrix Potter is very English in style and tone, as well as spellings. The editors should have maintained that.

Nina Gray said...

Thank you for the review.. but 8 books??!??

Arti said...

Lovely review as always Tracy, I am already in love with the character of Beatrix! :)

PS: A gentle reminder of the amazon giveaway on my blog, please try to participate if you can. Would love to have you over. :)

Kelly said...

I'm really glad to know that overall you enjoyed the book.

I can certainly understand your objections, as well. It always bothers me when folks don't do "southern" right here in the US. (prime example being y'all written as ya'll...not a correct contraction) As for the animal pets, it's my understanding she did actually have a number of "wild" creatures as pets, in part as models for her illustrations. Still, that doesn't make it right.

I've now read six of the eight books and it wasn't until book five that I had a real "this bothers me" moment. I won't elaborate in case you decide to continue on with the series.

And just for the record, Rascal is my favorite character. :) (and Beatrix Potter's mother my least)

oh...and I've posted twice since what it indicates in your sidebar. I just don't know why it's not updating properly!

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

This isn't a series of books that I would read, even though the premise is quite intriguing.

I don't like to see the classics almost abused in this way.

There aren't that many English authors who delve into the depths of writing fiction featuring American characters and locations, whilst the reverse is all too prevalent and doesn't always work that well.

I hate it when a book which is set in the UK, is then written in US English, at least try and keep it authentic!

Although I have come across some UK authors who are trying to make their UK English fiction more saleable across the pond and have tried to translate to US English, often with disastrous results.

The worst example was when a book appeared with UK and US English mixed on the pages, that was really bad and totally confusing!

I am glad that you enjoyed the reading experience though and I hope that the rest of the series is just as pleasing.


Suko said...

Thank you for your honest review. All in all, The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter sounds quite appealing.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I wonder if it was an American republication before it got republished in the UK? They probably changed the spellings for the US audience and forgot to go back for the UK. *shrugs* curious about that...

I need to pick up one of her books. I have never read one!!

Stephanie@Fairda'ys Blog said...

I don't think I have read this one. It sounds fun- and I can understands why the spellings were a bit annoying for you (I probably wouldn't have noticed being from the U.S.).

Thanks for sharing!

Naida said...

It sounds like despite a few misgivings you enjoyed The Tale Of Hill Top Farm overall.
Great review as usual.

Brandi Kosiner said...

Thanks for review, glad you liked even if there were things you didn't like

Gina R said...

How curious. An interesting mix of elements to say the least and it sounds like the author found a great way to portray the animals conversations despite their lack of understood language...well, by humans at least. ^_^ Great share!

Betty Manousos said...

a book that i'd enjoy very much.

thanks for another brilliant brevie, tracy!


Michelle Vintagecobweb said...


I haven't read this book, thanks for the review and I will put this one on my bucket list to read, I love Beatrix Potter and the different spelling of words isn't a problem for me, I'm used to it but thanks for the heads up.