The Borrowers Afield by Mary Norton (J Fantasy)

The Borrowers Afield

Mary Norton (J Fantasy)

It had been a year since Mrs. May told young Kate the story of the borrowers. Since that time, Kate had completely pushed their memory to the farthest corner of her mind until one early spring day when Mrs. May slipped her a letter and said, “This will interest you, Kate, I think.” And indeed it had since that letter had to do with Leighton Buzzard. Leighton Buzzard, as you might recall, was the country town where Great Aunt Sophy’s house was and it was in that house, as you might remember, where underneath the kitchen floorboards lived the Clocks: Pod, Homily, and Arrietty. But whatever happened to those poor Clocks? Last time we saw them, they had been smoked out of their comfortable home and left fleeing for their lives—never to be seen or heard from again. But worry not for there is one soul who knows exactly what happened to our dear friends and it is that very same person that Mrs. May and Kate—quite by chance—are about to meet.

Three years after writing The Borrowers in 1952, Mary Norton picks right up where she left off with The Borrowers Afield where our favorite trio are tirelessly trekking from Firbank to Perkin’s Beck in search of the badger’s set, home to the Hendrearies. In this book, Arrietty finally realizes her dream of living outdoors and becoming a true borrower; Homily begins to toughen up a bit, although required to become a vegetarian; and Pod continues to hold his family together while keeping an even temper and maintaining loving order. Their journey has them finding an unexpected abode, meeting several troublesome insects, and encountering a very helpful yet mysterious stranger.

Norton does not fail to live up to the expectations she established for her readers with her first book in the beloved Borrowers’ series. This next chapter is filled with adventure and ample amounts of danger, disappointment, and discovery. Through their ups and downs, the Clock family begin to not only learn more about themselves and their own capabilities, but they also learn more about one another, which results in a deeper appreciation for one another.

This book stresses family much more than the first as it truly is the Clocks vs the World. In doing so, our little troupe form a tighter bond and realize that if you’re with family, you’re already home. The Borrowers Afield is truly a fun frolic with plenty of action and suspense and every bit worthy of its predecessor.

Rating: 5/5

* Book cover image attributed to:

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Yesterday’s Sun by Amanda Brooke (Adult Fiction)

Yesterday’s Sun

Amanda Brooke (Adult Fiction)

Tom and Holly Corrigan had only been married for two years when they moved into the gatehouse that sat at the entrance of the once majestic Hardmonton Hall. Holly—an artist—instantly fell in love with the residence despite its many years of abandonment and neglect and finds that she has plenty of free time to make it a home since Tom’s job requires a lot of travel. Their lives, like the gatehouse, is full of possibility and promise. One day while renovating, Holly uncovers a wooden box that contains a beautiful glass ball and soon discovers that it is the missing top of the moondial that sits in their garden. When Holly places the orb on the pedestal on a full-moon night, she realizes that she has unwittingly activated a timepiece that shows her a future full of life and loss…a daughter and a death. When she shares her vision with Jocelyn, her new friend and the previous owner of the gatehouse, Holly soon learns the extensive truth behind the moondial’s power and realizes the terrible decision that she must now make that will not only affect her, but everyone she loves.

Give me a book that begins with a partial peek at the ending and I’m instantly invested in the characters and story. That is what Amanda Brooke does in her Prologue as we see Holly in bed, gently stroking her swollen belly, as she looks at her sleeping husband and whispers, “You’ll be angry with me for leaving you both, but eventually you’ll understand. One day, you’ll look at our daughter and you’ll know what I know. You’ll know that she was worth the sacrifice.” It’s a deeply emotional, intimate, and heartbreaking moment that immediately connects you with Holly and her story that’s just beginning to unfold for us. We know the journey with Holly won’t be easy given the fact that we most-likely know how her story will end, but we’re fully committed now and determined to see this through with her to the end…no matter how painful.

Holly is a fractured and imperfect protagonist. Yes, her waffling between questions of “Should I” or “Shouldn’t I” become a little tedious, but given her sudden and callous abandonment by her mother…HER MOTHER…you can understand the doubts and reservations she has about her own maternal abilities. If you lead by example, then Holly is doomed. Because Brooke takes her time in unpackaging Holly’s history, we clearly give her a pass when it comes to her indecisiveness and it’s why we stay loyal to her as she painfully struggles between self-preservation and self-sacrifice.

Without spoiling any of the story, I do want to comment on the verbiage written on the cover of the book: How can she choose between her child and herself? Oh, gentle reader. If only it were that easy, because as you start to discover and understand the power of the moondial, this goes so much deeper than “well…I just won’t do that and everything will be fine. Right?” When Jocelyn tells Holly that the moondial can be cruel, she isn’t  joking.

Yesterday’s Sun is a suspenseful, thoughtful, and poignant read that will keep you engrossed, guessing, and second guessing until the end. It’s a satisfying story that reminds us how we shouldn’t take anything for granted and how important it is to live in the now. American actor James Dean, who was only 24-years old when he died suddenly and tragically, said, “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” Holly eventually understood this and hopefully all of us won’t need a moondial to realize this as well.

Rating: 5/5

* Book cover image attributed to: