I came across my battered copy of Heidi yesterday while I was looking for something else. Ah, I thought, I can rave about that - but then I wondered if it could really be any good.
I haven't read Heidi for ages, and I wasn't sure I'd still like it: but then somehow I found myself on page 103 and enjoying myself hugely.
Heidi herself is a great character, and can be relied upon to cause panic in all but the most right-minded people; and Peter the goat-herd (the what? Why on earth would anyone name a herd of goats? I used to wonder) is wonderfully stubborn, selfish, dour and tongue-tied.
And then there's not only the self-serving Aunt Dete, the stuffy Fraulein Rottenmeier and the embittered Alm-Uncle, but Clara in her wheelchair as well.
There's the love of the mountains and the astonishments of the big town.
"Where is the child, Dete? What have you done with her?" [everyone asked, and] she replied angrily "With the Alm-Uncle, of course! I left her with the Alm-Uncle just as I said."
Dete ran through the village as fast as she could go...for she was far from easy in her conscience about what she had done.
Heidi was written in 1880 to raise money for refugees from the Franco-Prussian War. It has succeeded wonderfully, I think, from every point of view.
Perhaps there's rather a lot of praying going on towards the end, but nothing like enough to spoil the book.
Word To Use Today: uncle. This word is from the French oncle, and before that from the Latin word avus, which means...grandfather!