The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken is a very interesting book. Bonnie and Sylvia are cousins, and Sylvia is an orphan who has mostly been taken care of by her aged aunt Jane. The book is set in a fictitious point of history just so you know. Wolves were forced to swim to Britain, so in this story, so when Sylvia gets on the train to go to Willoughby Chase, they have to worry about wolves attacking the train. A gentleman joins Sylvia in her compartment, and she can’t pull the communication cord to get the conductor to help her. So she sits out the journey with him. In that compartment, a wolf broke through the window at one point. The man threw his cloak over it and stabbed it with a long shard of glass. Then they moved to another compartment for the rest of the journey.
The train had to stop abruptly so that the wolves wouldn’t see it slowing down, which would make them curious. They’d have come to check in that case. Bonnie is a lively little girl, and she came with one of the men to get Sylvia. Because Mr. Grimshaw, the man Sylvia had unwillingly spent the trip with, had been hit on the head by some of his luggage as the train stopped, they took him back to Willoughby Chase with them. Ms. Slighcarp, their new governess, is horrible and mean. When Bonnie’s parents leave, the first time they see her in the schoolroom, she’s wearing one of Bonnie’s mother’s dresses! Her mother’s FAVORITE dress! When Bonnie protests against this, Ms. Slighcarp locks her in the cupboard and sets Sylvia to mending sheets.
Then the horrible woman dismisses all the trustworthy servants, luckily, James managed to trick her into thinking he was untrustworthy, so she kept him. Pattern had to hide so she wouldn’t be discovered. Lots of things happened to those two little girls, including being sent to a supposed school where their hair was mostly cut off and they were forced to work with very little food. But Simon (a friend of Bonnie’s) saved them. Then they went to London, and saved aunt Jane (who needed saving because she’d been starving herself).
Those are the principal events in the story really, and if I tell anymore, the story’s end will be utterly ruined for you! And we can’t have that can we? Human and animal predators…. ugh, I hate Miss Slighcarp. She’s a horrible, horrible lady. If I hadn’t said it already, I would be saying “I hate her” again. But I did….. and just found another way of worming it in, so I’ll end this review by saying that I love all the other characters (excluding Mr. Grimshaw, Gertrude (Miss Slighcarp’s friend), and Gertrude’s daughter). And I shall add that the story is a nice, fast read for those who need one.