TOAD TRIUMPHANT by William Horwood


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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.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1996
Page count: 281pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's