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Heidi – Johanna Spyri (1880’s)

Basic Plot:
When orphan Heidi is sent to live with her grandfather in the mountains, the two grow to love each other dearly. Heidi charms everyone she meets-but then her strict aunt sends her away again to live in the town. Despite a wonderful new friendship there, Heidi longs to return to her happy life in the mountains. Is there any way she can have both? [Amazon.co.uk] [GoodReads “summery” was a description of the entire plot, including the ending…]

What can I say about this book? It’s a book that I read when I was growing up so, so many times. I remember the edition I had vividly – it was a double book edition, the second book was called “What Katy Did Next” which I don’t think I ever paid as much attention to as “Heidi”.

When I saw that this was available as a free Kindle download, I knew that I needed to re-read it. It has been such a long time since I revisited Heidi’s world and her adventures, of the mountains with Alm-Uncle and the two goats, of Peter, Clara and Frankfurt.

Reading a children’s book when you’re all grown up makes you see the story from a different perspective. I don’t think I ever realised the extent of Godliness in the book – all the mentions of God and the Bible – I must have glazed over them. I haven’t ever been a religious person [in fact… I used to go to church as a child for the free food rather than the feeling of faith]. When re-reading this novel I have to say I did skip over most of the mentions of the Bible, the extracts of the hymns and God – sadly, even now, it just doesn’t interest me.

I loved revisiting Heidi. I can totally understand her homesickness for the mountains, I can think of nothing, and nowhere, more beautiful than the mountain that the author describes – I would definitely feel homesick going from that beautiful place to being enclosed in a city with little to look at.

I think one of the drawbacks of the plot is the whole notion of Peter. His actions, more than once, were less than acceptable, but he never gets comeuppance, in fact, he gets a pat on the back and a money reward for destroying Clara’s wheelchair – surely he should have had some kind of slap on the wrist? Throughout the book there’s a general lack of consequences for actions; Heidi causes a ruckus in Frankfurt, not that she knows that she’s done wrong, but she gets away with it the whole time and then returns home where suddenly she’s the perfect child again that has allowed the grandfather to become human and approachable again.

Spyri’s description of the townspeople is spot on. It’s something that we see not only in friendship circles, social gatherings and official circles, but also the modern media and the way that it’s spread. It goes like this: derision at an event, confirmation of said scorn for whatever reason, the reviewing the whole situation leading to a change in the perception of whole situation. In the book everything is resolved, but in real life the damage is done and not quite so easily resolved.

In all I really did enjoy re-reading this book, it made me feel happy all over again. Genuinely, I felt happy when Heidi was returned home even though I’ve read it before, and when Clara came to visit and got her own resolution. When I was a child I used to pretend that I was Heidi living up in the mountains; I liked the escape of it all.

I’ll leave it there for tonight, I imagine my next blog entry will be knitting related,

Take it easy.