This book didn't really end up being exactly what I expected. I decided to read it because I had seen a lot of good reviews and I dreadfully miss England. Right now, rieading is as close as I can get to being there!
The book is a fictionalized telling of Beatrix Potter's life, with a bit of mystery thrown in. In the beginning I found the mystery intriguing but by the end of the book, and given the way the mystery was unfolded, I was not as happy with it. I hate it when a mystery is so involved that I feel lost, but this one was, rather, a bit too simple really.
Still, the story is sweet and the setting idyllic. The Lake District in England is simply beautiful and relaxing. We spent one night there and most of a day, when we visited in the fall of 2008. We did not visit Hill Top Farm or Castle Cottage but we did visit Beatrix Potter World and were all pleasantly surprised by its sweetness.
As I said, the story is simple, filled with simple characters. There are, however, quite a few characters. The list in the front of the book was, indeed, helpful for remembering who everyone was. I referred to it a few times. The writing is such that you can envision the places and people.
The author did begin to lose my interest when she mentions some of the animals as wearing clothing. I could accept the fact that the animals shared dialogue with one another but not with people. Accepting the communication of animals for the sake of the story was fine...accepting rats in waistcoats was a bit too much for me though.
It is a charming book and pretty easy to follow. It would certainly work well as a read-aloud to young children who run out of titles written by Miss Potter, herself.