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The Tale of Applebeck Orchard (The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter) by Susan Wittig Albert
Cover Artist: Peggy Turchette
Review by Gayle Surrette
Berkley Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425229774
Date: 01 September 2009 List Price $23.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Cottage Tales Website / Show Official Info /

Beatrix has finally managed to extricate herself from her parents to take a trip to visit Hill Top Farm and her friends and neighbors in The Tale of Applebeck Orchard. She barely gets off the ferry when she's greeted by Will Heelis who happened to be waiting for the ferry to go in the opposite direction. Will offers her a ride home with her bundles and fills her in on what's been happening--the most newsworthy being that Mr. Harmsworth has barricaded the common path that runs through his property. Without this footpath the journey between Near and Far Sawrey will take much longer. Beatrix, it seems, has returned to her farm to find herself facing villagers involved in a tempest of tempers and accusations.

More Susan Wittig Albert
The Cottage Tales of Betrix Potter:
* The Tale of Hill Top Farm
* The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood
* The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood
* The Tale of Hawthorn House
* The Tale of Briar Bank
* The Tale of Applebeck Orchard

China Bayles:
* Spanish Dagger
* Nightshade
* Wormwood
* China Bayles' Book of Days (NF)

Once again, Susan Wittig Albert, balances the tale told by the animals and that of the humans. While the two tales twist about each other and have common elements, the two sets of creatures (animal and human) do not communicate, but instead separately work to solve their problems.

Beatrix has other errands to run while she's at her farm. She finds that she feels more alive and at home here than she ever has in London with her parents. The role her parents have set for her is chaffing more and more and she longs to settle at her farm permanently. She also realizes that her feelings for Will Heelis are growing dangerously close to being more than friendship and is not sure how to deal with the problem.

The animals believe that Fritz the ferret may be able to help them find out who torched the haystack on Mr. Harmsworth's farm. Surprisingly, Fritz turns out to be much different than they expected and a keen observer.

There are enough twists and turns to keep us reading, hoping that the path will be opened, that relationships will bloom, and that Beatrix will once again realize she's now part of the town and countryside she loves so much.

The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter are wonderful books that make you realize that people haven't changed all that much over time, though today we have a lot more gadgets and gewgaws to do our work.

One of the peculiarities of these books that I happen to love is the intrusive narrator. The narrator of the stories doesn't shirk from telling us what's going on, explaining how life in 1910 differs from life now, and warning us about possible problems. The tone of friendly guide is one that I enjoy and it makes the books seem even more colorful and inviting--others might have an opposite reaction so it's worth mentioning.

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