The Tale of Hawthorn House: The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter
by Susan Wittig Albert
Cover Artist: Peggy Turchette
Review by Gayle Surrette
Berkley Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425216552
Date: 04 September 2007 List Price $23.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Publisher's Page / Series Website / Show Official Info /
Once again Albert has crafted a tale that lets us enjoy the English countryside of the Beatrix Potter paintings and the inhabitants of Near Sawrey and its environs. The omniscient point of view allows us to enjoy observing everyone in town and yet be outside the story. This viewpoint can annoy some people but I find it, when used as here as a guide to the story with occasional asides to fill us in, to be amusing and in a way adding to the comfort of the story. There's the story of the humans and that of the animals that populate a village surrounded by farms. Sometimes the threads of their stories cross and affect each other but only the readers get to see how these two tales interact with each other.
The central mystery of who is the baby's mother and why was the child abandoned would normally be moot as the child would be placed in a work house and raised there. Luckily, this child was left on Beatrix Potter's doorstep and thus has an advocate. This is a look at the times, putting faces to the beliefs and prejudices of those times -- that some of those beliefs haven't changed much in the intervening years, or at least not for some people.
Families are something all of us can relate to in one way or another and in The Tale of Hawthorn House. There are the families we're born into, the families that we make for ourselves, and the families that we hope to achieve. Ideals, idealism, roles, and attitudes are important but, at heart, it's all about families.