There’s a reason it’s a classic

So, Alex’s bed time story at the moment is Mary Norton’s The Borrowers.

Now, this was one book that passed me by in my childhood. I guess it was classed as a “girls book”, something I’ll ramble on about later. But yeah, I missed a great book here, and I’m really glad I got to catch up with it now.

And it’s not the “little people live in your house” idea, because that’s just the gimme, the little idea. Other people did it, mostly worse.

It’s the characterisation and insight. Especially for its age, there is one passage that’s stunning: where Arrietty makes a suggestion that is recognised as a good one by her parents, and this pulls the rug from her, because parents do not take advice from children. If you have a copy, go back and read it, it’s a remarkable section.

The characterisation is, for the most part, truthful and subtle (in great contrast to the TV and film adaptations, both of which run towards the provincial pantomime school of acting, with the notable exceptions of Ian Holm and Jim Broadbent), the plotting and pacing tight, and the writing is, in essence, exemplary.

Never mind writing for children, anyone who wants to learn how to write, period, should have a look at the Borrowers


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