VIOLLET by Julia Cunningham


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Because of the controversy over Dorp Dead, this will be of considerable interest to librarians, but it is not likely to carry much conviction for children. The flaw is fundamental, in the form: this story of animals who talk and act as humans is neither fa nor fantasy nor allegory. (Not fantasy because fantasy requires either an imaginary world or a bridge from the real to the imaginary; not allegory because the chief conflict is individual and personal.) Viollet is a thrush, a natural musician who is afraid to ing except when she is alone. Her friend Warwick the wise fox tells her how he lost his own fear and came to rejoice in being a fox. Warwick converses with Oxford, the aged Count's faithful dog, and learns that Oxford fears his master's life to be threatened by Tressac, the covetous manager of the vineyard. The animals plot together to protect the beloved Count; when the attack comes, Viollet flies at Tressac's eyes to spoil his aim, and Oxford leaps at him, intercepting the shot. At the behest of the Count, who has regained his youthful vigor, the wounded Oxford is carried into the house. Abandoning their roles as wild animals, Viollet and Warwick join Oxford and the Count in front of the fire, and the four dine together in perfect understanding. "Now, in the circle of honor and loyalty and love," the thrush knew "it was time to sing, to be free of fear, to show herself whole." The beauty of the book is in the character of each of the animals and their relationships to one another; the weakness is in their intervention in the affairs of men. The old count is a credible character until his final transformation, but Tressac is a villain without dimension, a loathsome, petty person. Viollet La Grive is believable, but her story is not.
Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1966
ISBN: 0394918215
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1966


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