My introduction to Mary Norton’s wonderful series The Borrowers began with the film Arrietty, but it was almost a year and half before this series piqued my interest again. Amazon’s ebooks sale helped me purchase the 1st book of the series, and from thereon, I was instantly transported into Arrietty’s delightful adventures for almost a month.
The series centers around the adventures of The Clocks – the ever resourceful yet quiet Pod, the nervous yet yearning Homily and Arrietty, whose curiosity is an envy even among the feline community. The 1st book aptly titled The Borrowers, introduces us to these borrowers who’ve been living under the kitchen stove for some years. Their quiet and uneventful life is disturbed much to Pod’s consternation when Arrietty is “seen” by a boy. Arrietty’s curiosity naturally rules over reason when she befriends the Boy whose helpful natures ends up in the Clocks being chased out of the house. The story then transitions to the 2nd book The Borrowers Afield, where the Clocks have turned to vegetarianism in order to survive the wild. The book also introduces us to another key character named Spiller, whose presence is often felt and seen in the rest of the series.
The 3rd book introduces another family of Borrowers, Pod’s brother Hendreary and his wife Lupy whose pomp and splendor forms the major part of the 3rd book The Borrowers Aloft. Hendreary and Lupy until now, are often mentioned by Pod and Homily, and Norton maintains the mystery around this family. The 4th book titled The Borrowers Afloat gives a brief reprieve for the Clocks as they find their perfect home in a miniature village called The Little Fordham. The peace doesn’t last long as they are “seen” and chased by a greedy couple called Platters who intend to build their fortune on them. The final book titled The Borrowers Avenged brings an interesting conclusion to the series as the Pod and Hendreary are reunited and the Platters are dealt a blow.
Norton’s simplistic yet engaging writing style kept me engaged throughout the series. Though the beginning had little information on the Borrowers, Norton’s presentation of the story gives readers plenty to ponder while constructing the story through their imaginations. Homily was perhaps the character that evolved the most, as she is shown hating humans but craving all the human comforts, while Arrietty and Pod are the more mellowed and understanding characters who entertain Homily’s whims. Norton subtly hints of Arrietty’s transition to the teens, an age with abundance irritability and very little patience. Arrietty however, shows her rebellion by befriending humans, an act expressly forbidden by her parents. But as the series evolves, Pod takes the lead guiding a distraught Homily and Arrietty to safety. Homily too pitches in when the occasions demand, helping Pod and Spiller as they move from one home to another.
Arrietty is the obvious complex character as she imbibes both her parents’ characteristics. As a teen, she experiences conflicts that are unknown to most Borrowers, most notably that of befriending humans. She reminded me strongly of the Disney’s mermaid princess Ariel whose longing for the world above often causes trouble for her father. That said, this is one delightful series that I enjoyed reading this summer.