A friend of mine from seminary once expressed his fondness for Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, which motivated me to download an audio book narrated by Adrian Praetzellis. Normally, I would not mention the narrator, but he possesses stunning talent as a lector. His voice captures the essence of each character and uses a gentle and pleasant tone for the narrative parts. I actually felt a thrill when I realized that he also narrated Mr. Midshipman Easy by Frederick Marryat in the librovox series. Mr. Praetzellis’s voice also works wonders for the characters in Marryat’s work.
The Wind in the Willows turned out to be a tour de force. Grahame has an excellent touch in lending an air of fantasy to his scenes. This evinces itself most strongly in this work when he describes the forest during winter or the brief advent of a certain god in the midst of the night. Then again, he has a deft touch when it comes to creating unique and likable characters. A poor author may create many characters who seem rather the same, but Mr. Rat, Mr. Mole, Mr. Badger, and Mr. Toad all have a distinct air about them. Grahame must not have taken life too seriously and had considerable leniency to his fellows. At least, the Chaucerian manner in which he renders even the characters’ flaws endearing suggests this. The Badger’s ponderous gravity, Toad’s egotism, the Mole’s maudlin attitude and impetuosity, and the Rat’s obsession with weapons all serve to make the reader love them more.
The work describes a series of adventures endured by the animals of the river. This world is surprisingly gentile, like the Old South. Little adventures occur to upset the flow of life, the most extraordinary of which surround Mr. Toad. The authorities incarcerate him for automobile theft. Then, he escapes prison and discovers that his house has been invaded by other creatures, whom he must oust from his property with the help of his friends. Mostly though, the tales contained in the work are episodic.
So, I heartily recommend this work to young children and adults who wish to immerse their minds in the gentle world of the river.