The Tale of Applebeck Orchard
by Susan Wittig Albert

Berkley Publishing Group - The Penguin Group, 2009. ISBN 978-0-425-22977-4.
Reviewed by Rhonda Esakov
Posted on 08/31/2009

Fiction: Historical; Fiction: Mystery

Did you ever wish you were a fly on the wall to witness or overhear something? In The Tale of Applebeck Orchard, you can immerse yourself in the lives of the people and animals through the eyes of the narrator—our proverbial "fly on the wall."

In the year 1910, Beatrix Potter is still struggling to balance her life between her duty to her parents with their almost bourgeois lifestyle and her own wishes to live the quiet country life of a farmer, writer and villager. When finally able to break away from her parents for a short, relaxing trip to her country home, Beatrix finds herself drawn into a controversy about the barricading of a popular local footpath. The animals from the Lake District are also drawn to the problem and only by cunning and strength of character will the two groups work in their own ways to solve the problems that arise around Applebeck Orchard.

If you want a charming, cozy story full of mischief and antics—this is your book. If you want to explore the depths of Victorian romance and accepted behavior—this is your book. And if you want to delve even deeper—this is the book that will take you into the questions on the equality of women—for the people (and animals!) in this story question the highly debatable issue of women's rights and duties and the unfair discrimination of the "fairer" sex. And did I mention the ghost? Or ghosts? On all levels, Albert delivers.

Susan Wittig Albert grew up on a farm in Illinois and earned her Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. A former professor of English and a university administrator and vice president, she is the author of the China Bayles Mysteries and a family-friendly mystery series set in the early 1900s featuring Beatrix Potter. She and her husband, Bill, coauthor a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries under the name of Robin Paige. The Alberts live near Austin, Texas. Visit their website and Susan's blog.

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