What’s it all about?:
What happens when a little orphan girl is forced to live with her cold and frightening grandfather? The heart-warming answer has engaged children for more than a century, both on the page and on the screen. Johanna Spyri’s beloved story offers youngsters an endearing and intelligent heroine, a cast of unique and memorable characters, and a fascinating portrait of a small Alpine village.
What did I think?:
This book was my choice for the monthly children’s classic challenge carried out by myself and my sister. I absolutely loved this book as a child, and was intrigued to see whether re-visiting it as an adult would alter any of my opinions. The story begins when our heroine Heidi is sent to live in the Swiss mountains with her grandfather who has built up a reputation for himself as being a bit of a reclusive and bad-tempered ogre. Heidi is headstrong, full of energy, and finds beauty in everything she sees, quickly falling head over heels in love with her new surroundings and her surly grandfather who begins to adore her in return. She has no qualms about speaking her mind, and her innocent remarks and retorts made me smile on a few occasions.
Just when things are going swimmingly on the mountain, and Heidi has made firm friends with a young goatherd called Peter and his blind grandmother (who obviously both adore her, Heidi can do no wrong!), her Aunt takes her away to become a companion to a young invalid called Clara who lives in Frankfurt. She becomes dreadfully homesick for her mountain home, and is eventually sent back when her sadness becomes too much and she starts sleepwalking, giving the residents of the house a terrible fright, them supposing her to be a ghostly visitor. Her new friend Clara comes to visit her for a holiday and then a miracle occurs….
I was happy to realise that I still loved this book as an adult. Heidi is such an adorable character that you can’t help warming to, and the development of a relationship between her and the terrifying grandfather is still as heart-warming for me as it was 25 years ago. It was also wonderful to remember episodes that I had forgotten, such as when she decides to give a present of a number of kittens for her new friend Clara much to the anger of Frau Rottenmeier (aptly named), also the jealousy and consequences of Peter’s jealousy over Heidi’s new playmate – which actually turns out to be a beneficial thing in the end as it triggers the start of the “miracle.”
What I didn’t realise on re-reading this novel, was the key part that religion played in the story. As an agnostic, I don’t mind a bit of religion, and sometimes it can add interest to events, but at times it felt a bit preachy and unnecessary. Not that it spoiled my enjoyment at any level, and I still highly recommend it as a classic example of great children’s literature, but has slightly lowered my rating as a result.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):