When life gets really busy you havew to find the most efficient way to manage your time. I love reading but I love doing a lot of other things too. For that reason I do all my reading in my lunch break at work since I can’t watch movies or play games (except maybe handheld titles) there. I always go outside for lunch because the tea room where I work is about the size of an average public toilet cubicle, which means braving the elements. It’s been a cold, windy winter and I have shivered my way through most of the books I’ve read in the last year and a half, not a good thing, but it gave a strangely immersive quality to Mary Norton’s second tale about tiny people, The Borrower’s Afield, published in 1955, that I would never have got at home because this story sees the borrowers discovering the harsh outdoors.
We again begin with Kate, the same girl who heard the story of The Borrowers as told to her by Mrs May. This time after she and Mrs May set off on holiday to the town where the events of the stories took place she is treated to the next chapter of the story by Tom Goodenough whose knowledge of the borrowers is rather authoritative.
Jumping back in time the story proper picks up straight after the end of the first as Pod, Homily and Arrietty flee the house and cross fields in search of the badger’s set they believe their relatives now inhabit. Dodging insects and other fauna they set up home in a lost boot and meet a young field-going borrower called Spiller.
While the novelty of reading about miniature people hasn’t exactly worn off we’re familiar with it now and to match the value of the original Norton would have had to crank up the plot a few notches to give the book a boost. She didn’t. Instead we get a consistently amusing account of the family’s attempts to adapt to life under the sky with few twists. Things get more interesting towards the end and the comedy always hits the spot, especially Homily’s recurring incredulity at their surroundings and situation but it never really becomes riveting. That said there are plenty of worse ways to spend a lunch break and the youngsters should find plenty of wonder in the imagination on display.
Another agreeable and witty foray into a tiny world that is as inoffensive as it is unambitious.