Book review: The Borrowers #3: The Borrowers Afloat by Mary Norton (Puffin Books, 1997 , from The Complete Borrowers)
The Borrowers are homeless again. The gamekeeper’s cottage, their latest refuge, is being closed up. Luckily their friend Spiller comes to the rescue and introduces them to a new home by the river, in a kettle! Once more the Borrowers find themselves in the middle of a huge adventure.
At the end of the previous book, the Clock family had finally ended up back indoors, in the gamekeeper’s cottage, with uncle Hendreary and aunt Lupy and their children. There is tension between the two families, because resources are scarce, and, well, the Clocks weren’t there first.
Arrietty and young Tom (the gamekeeper’s grandson) are getting along fine, but eventually the cottage has to be shut up because the humans are leaving. Borrowers need humans to survive, so the Clocks decide they need to get back into nature.
Helped down a drain by Spiller, the family set up shop in a kettle and wait for Spiller to get back. Apparently the miniature village of Little Fordham – a legend amongst Borrowers – isn’t a fairy-story but an actual place. Maybe they could live there?
Meanwhile, they have to make do with what they have, and avoid the horror of being Seen …
If I kept saying how much I enjoy these stories for their descriptions of nature, it would get boring. But I do. Aside from that, there’s not much more to add. Homily is still hysterical, Mild-Eye the Gipsy makes another appearance, and the book is too short for the plot to progress loads. It’s basically “they live in the gamekeeper’s cottage, they move out to live in a kettle, Spiller comes to the rescue in his boat”, but then it’s a children’s book so mustn’t grumble.
It also doesn’t help that a whole chapter in the beginning has been lifted straight from the end of the previous book and repeated word for word – especially not when you read that same chapter only the day before – but with a few more sentences added to the end. What’s up with that? Couldn’t a summary have accomplished the same thing?
Saying that, I still really enjoyed this story, and can’t wait for them to finally get to Little Fordham. (If they ever do, which I don’t remember, having last read these books at least 20 years ago.) Onwards and upwards!
4 out of 5 eggs.