Books by William Horwood

TOAD TRIUMPHANT by William Horwood
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 24, 1996

In a second sequel to Kenneth Grahame's classic The Wind in the Willows, Horwood (The Willows in Winter, 1994) revisits the River Bank and the beloved characters of Toad, Mole, Rat, and Badger. Portraits of loyal Mole, practical Rat, and wise Badger remain faithfully intact (in text as well as in Benson's black-and- white illustrations); however, Horwood seems captivated with Grahame's own notion of ``an altered Toad,'' and much of the plot dances around this idea. Toad's normal vanity and conceit are seen in ``alarming transmutation,'' thanks to Cupid's arrow, which has left Toad smitten and contemplating matrimony. A parallel plot bears the overriding theme of immortality, which prompts Mole and Rat to journey up river in their desire to ``get a little nearer to the mystery we have called Beyond.'' The two threads intersect at journey's end, where Toad willfully escapes ``the eternal bond'' of marriage, proving himself as irresolute as ever. The formal style of writing adequately mimics Grahame's own; that, and the sophisticated themes may be better appreciated by adults who loved the original. Nevertheless, the River Bank animals have fans who will be happy to pause awhile in such good company. (Fiction. 11+) Read full book review >
THE WILLOWS IN WINTER by William Horwood
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

Mole, Water Rat, Badger, and Toad return, but they are mere shadows of their former selves. Horwood has a talent for mimicry, and he manages to reproduce Kenneth Grahame's phraseology and rhythms rather well. Unfortunately, this sorry sequel captures none of the magic of the original Willows. It is stodgy and doddering, like the ageing animals it features. Horwood writes the story of Mole, who goes out in a blizzard to save Rat and Otter and falls through the ice of the River and is swept away. Meanwhile, all his friends and even some weasels and stoats have formed a search party, but after a few days they give up and hold a memorial service that Mole himself attends. Toad, who was supposed to help look for Mole in his new plane, flies off and gets into trouble in the Wide World from which he narrowly escapes with Badger's help. Without Grahame's wit and artistry, this falls terribly flat. Horwood proves that it takes more than a good ear to write a sequel to a classic. This attempt is presumptuous. (Fiction. All ages) Read full book review >