Jan 14, 2012

About Books Blog 55 - The Wolves of Willoughby Chase


Author: Joan Aiken 
Genre: Children’s/Young Adult/Alternate History/Adventure 

Summary (from Goodreads)

Wicked wolves and a grim governess threaten Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia when Bonnie's parents leave Willoughby Chase for a sea voyage. Left in the care of the cruel Miss Slighcarp, the girls can hardly believe what is happening to their once happy home. The servants are dismissed, the furniture is sold, and Bonnie and Sylvia are sent to a prison-like orphan school. It seems as if the endless hours of drudgery will never cease.

 With the help of Simon the gooseboy and his flock, they escape. But how will they ever get Willoughby Chase free from the clutches of the evil Miss Slighcarp?

 My Thoughts 

 The Wolves of Willoughby Chase had been gathering dust on my book shelf since I was in grade school. For some reason I never got around to reading it. I have to admit that I initially picked it up off the shelf because it was short and I was short on time. I didn’t have any notions of greatness from such a slim volume, but as it has been said the best things come in small packages. This book proves that point.

 I loved how charming the children characters were in this book. Bonnie, Syliva, and Simon were such lovely children. Each noble in their own way. Reading their adventure was more fun, because I really cared about them. I thought it a little strange that the wolves were not more involved in the tale considering the title. Then I thought that perhaps the author was trying to be metaphorical. The villains in the book, Miss Slighcarp (awesome villainous name by the way) and her nasty companions, could be considered wolf like in their plot to steal the Green family fortune.

 The book stands out because of it’s unique mixture of genres. It combines the excitement of mystery with the endearing qualities of a children’s book. Interestingly it is also an alternate history novel. Though I learned by reading this that I know too little of British and European history to really know the difference. Commentary on Wikipedia and Goodreads has since given me more insight where that is concerned. The novel’s ability to be both adorable and gothic made me fall in love. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is going to be a favorite of mine from now on.

 Interesting Facts 

 This book is the first in The Wolves Chronicles series. I wonder if I can find the books on Amazon. I am very interested in reading them. What am I saying? You can find almost anything on Amazon. 

 The Wolves of Willoughby Chase was written over several years with a seven year gap due to Joan Aiken’s full time job.

 The book has  in recent years been adapted into a stage play.

 The Movie 

The film has a cohesive story and is fairly entertaining. I couldn’t help feeling underwhelmed. The first half of the movie is semi close to the book, while the last half is nothing like it at all. I think it was right to make a few changes to make it more exciting visually. However, some of the changes were so silly. The entire thing was far too melodramatic in both acting and scene choices. I disliked what was done with the child characters. Sylvia so tightly wound and a little snooty about it. In the books she is shy and sensitive. Bonnie was an adventurous yet caring child in the book. Yet in the film I felt that she was a brat. When I was watching the film I couldn’t believe that they would want to be around each other, much less be friendly cousins. To add to all this Simon’s character (which is so prominent and the novel) was basically used and then forgotten about. Overall, the movie okay. I would probably watch it again if not for my qualms with the character depictions. The book is definitely better than the movie, but it is rare that that statement doesn’t apply to an adaptation. Maybe I’m being too picky. My gosh, the trailer for the movie is hilarious! I laughed so hard. It's so bad it's good. It actually makes the movie look so much worse than it was. Ha ha! 

Music To Read By 

 I only got around to listening to one album. Tori Amos’ album Night Of The Hunters. The album uses a lot of influences from classical music. It has a very orchestral sound that went very nicely with the book. Though I wouldn’t say the lyrics fit very well with it. I think it’s a good album for reading in general since it has lyrics, but they don’t cause you to become distracted. Since I was inclined toward classical sounds for this book I made a playlist of mostly classical music and instrumentals. The some of the titles were quite long so I just posted the player instead of typing them out.

That is all my darlings. I typed this review instead of dictating it, because of my cough. I hope there aren't too many mistakes, but if there are I apologize. Happy reading and keep it shiny!

1 comment:

LoriStrongin said...

I think I've heard of this one but never got around to reading it. Nice to know the characters are engaging but boo that the movie scriptwriters took it upon themselves to make the book more "cinematic." You think they'd have learned something when people are always saying, "it wasn't as good as the book."