The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

Published: 1962

Genre: middle grade historical fiction

Length: 181 pages

Setting: 1800s England (they had trains and fowling pieces as the technology to date the setting)

Interest: It was recommended as a good read aloud and it sounded like something different from our last bedtime story.

Summary: Sylvia, a poor orphan girl, is sent to live her with rich cousin, Bonnie. When she gets to the house, Bonnie’s parents are just leaving for a boat trip to improve the health of Bonnie’s mother. The children are left in the care of a distant cousin, Miss Slighcarp, engaged as their governess. Unfortunately, Miss Slighcarp took the job (and brought in an accomplice) to steal the house and set up a school. Bonnie and Sylvia are sent to a school for orphans which is run as a workhouse, where the children are beaten and starved. They escape and head to London with the help of Simon, the local goose boy. There they find Sylvia’s frail Aunt Jane and bring the situation to the attention of the authorities. Miss Slighcarp ultimately gets her comeuppance and Bonnie is reunited with her parents.

Final thoughts: An enjoyable enough book, if nothing too special. The book is a nice addition to the “strong female protagonist” canon. Miss Slighcarp also expertly filled the role of “nasty governess”. She reveled in her power and was mean to children just because she could be. There are other books in the series, but I’m not drawn to read them as well. One thing of note is Aiken doesn’t hesitate to use a more complex vocabulary than you will often find in modern children’s books. Miss Curiosity would often stop me to ask what some new word meant as we were reading each evening. As a side note, it has been made into a movie.

Title comes from: Willoughby Chase was the name of Bonnie’s house. Several adventures at the beginning of the story occurred because of wolves.

Reading challenges fulfilled: a W in my title Reading the Alphabet Challenge and #5 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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