cover image The Willows in Winter

The Willows in Winter

William Horwood. St. Martin's Press, $18.95 (294pp) ISBN 978-0-312-11354-4

Horwood revisits Kenneth Grahame's classic, The Wind in the Willows, to transplant its characters to a new adventure. His story, like Grahame's, involves a series of comic misunderstandings that lead different animals into a variety of odd journeys. The trouble starts when Otter's son Portly sends Mole into a blizzard on what proves to be an unnecessary rescue mission, and Mole disappears, thus mobilizing other would-be rescuers. Meanwhile Toad, having exchanged the motor car of Wind in the Willows for a flying machine, wrests control of the plane from the pilot and sails off on a chaotic joy ride. There's a bit of mistaken identity, another disguise for Toad (who previously impersonated a washerwoman), incarceration and a ludicrous trial. Toad even has an out-of-body experience. Horwood captures most of the atmosphere of the original work, although its wild, sublime silliness escapes him. Toad, for example, remains irremediably pompous and wayward, but he is no longer Grahame's larger-than-life mock-epic hero. Nevertheless, Horwood manages a lot of mirthful moments, and those who can't get enough of the River Bank and the Wild Wood will be grateful for his work. All ages. (Oct.)