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The Tale of Hill Top Farm (Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – Oct 2005


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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group; First THUS edition (Oct 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425201015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425201015
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 2.1 x 17.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 725,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Phillips on 1 Dec 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read the entire series of "Victorian Mysteries" written by Mrs. Albert and her husband under the name of Robin Paige and have found most of the books in that series to be quite good. I was particularly impressed with the entry in that series that featured Beatrix Potter and so I was sure that I would really like this new series that would revolve entirely around the famous author of children's books.
This series is based on Potter's real life purchase of Hill Top Farm in England's Lake District and features not only a captivating set of villagers but also an eclectic group of mystery solving animals. Both the people and the animals of the village are a gossipy bunch and both tend to make mountains out of molehills and spread inaccurate speculation. In the case of this book however these things may be a virtue for although there are several little mysteries running along as secondary plot lines all of the mysteries are quite shallow and could use any weight that the village grapevine might add to them.
It seems to be the style of this author to use the first book in a series as an introductory volume that introduces her readers to both the characters and setting of the series. That is certainly what she has done here for if the depth of the mystery content of this book were a creek one could wade across it without getting the top of ones feet wet. One of the main mysteries in this book for example is that an entire two pounds has gone missing and its disappearance has the ever-domineering Miss Myrtle Crabbe on the warpath. I'm sorry but this is just not the kind of despicable crime that would get the attention of Sherlock Holmes, or even Agatha Raisin for that matter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Baker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Mar 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Beatrix Potter, successful author, has bought a farm in the Lake District of England. She loves the area and is hoping to use it to set up an independent life from her parents.

She expects peace and quite in the village of Near Sawrey. But on her first visit, she realizes that's not to be.

Miss Tolliver passed away rather unexpectedly on her birthday. Her death was a shock to all, and the village is buzzing. Additionally, things seem to be disappearing around the village, and Miss Potter gets caught up in the middle.

All this is on top of the personal problems Miss Potter faces. She's still reeling from the death of her fiance just a few months before. And, while she may own Hill Top Farm, she must figure out a way to live there while keeping the current farmers there to run it for her.

I went back and forth on whether I enjoyed the book or not. The pacing is slow, and at times I was ready for things to speed up. Yet at other times I got caught up in events and couldn't put the book down.

The characters were interesting. I especially like the portrayal of Beatrix. I completely believed her temperament from the little I know about this period of her life.

Since the book is about Beatrix Potter, there are lots of animals in the story. While they can't communicate with humans, they can talk to each other and actually play an important part in the story. It's handled in a believable way but might bother those who don't like that kind of thing.

There were parts that were enjoyable, but on the whole it was an average read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Part one in what I believe is a series of 8 books, whilst I felt that The Tale Of Hill Top Farm had many things to recommend it there were some things that troubled me.

Not normally one to quibble about the use of American spellings - why should I be when so many of the books I read are by American authors - it did however seem incongruous to me that a book featuring the quintessentially British novelist, Beatrix Potter, should be riddled with such spellings (Color, Organize, Neighbor ...... I could go on but won't).

Not my main gripe though. Not something I will go into at any great length about here BUT given my views on keeping hedgehogs as 'pets' suffice to say the very mention did considerably mar my enjoyment of the book.

Anyway, pet hedgehogs aside. I loved the fact that the animals were given a voice (not that they were understood by humans you understand, only by each other), that their conversations were written in italics so that it was easy to identify that it was Crumpet the cat or Rascal the dog or one of the other animals who was speaking rather than any of the myriad of human characters who by the way almost without exception had such wonderfully quaint names.

A gentle, one could even say, genteel read set in the English Lake District (not 80 miles from where I live). Apart from the cosy mystery at the heart of the story I loved the biographical glimpses into Beatrix's life, of how the author managed to convey that here was a woman yearning for love and independence and yet, at the same time, in many ways a woman of her time, a woman who felt somewhat duty bound to obey her parents wishes.

Copyright: Petty Witter @ Pen and Paper.

The Tale of Hill Top Farm (Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter Mysteries)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 40 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Delightful English Cozy Mixes Beatrix Potter's Animal Tales with Murder 30 July 2006
By L. Kelly - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Tale of Hill Top Farm" is a delightful debut story in an engaging new mystery series by veteran mystery writer Susan Wittig Albert. Ms. Albert has done a fine job of blending biographical information from the life of Beatrix Potter (author of "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" and other children's tales) with a compelling murder mystery of her own imagining.

This story introduces the reader to the real Lake Country Village of Sawrey, along with a large host of imagined village inhabitants. As the story opens, one of the village's middle-aged spinsters is found dead in her cottage on the day right after her birthday. The venerable Miss Abigail Tolliver seemed healthy enough at her birthday celebration, and when the village doctor pronounces that she passed due to heart trouble, the local gossips are quick to suspect that Miss Tolliver was poisoned. When Miss Beatrix Potter arrives in town to survey her newly purchased farm, she finds herself looking for answers to the mystery surrounding Miss Tolliver's death. Other strange goings-on in the village include the loss of the Parish Village Register, which contains the church records of the village, and the mysteriouos disappearance of a large sum of money donated to repair the village school roof. The village animals also get involved in trying to solve these mysteries.

Just like the Peter Rabbit stories, all the village animals can talk, but not all the humans can understand them. The animals in this story are embued with much personality, as are the village locals.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Albert's China Bayles series, and I expect that this series will be one to savor as well.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Beatrix Potter buys a farm... 4 Sep 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It's England in 1905, Beatrix Potter has purchased Hill Top Farm in Near Sawrey in the Lake District. Local farmers are upset that the farm is now owned by an outsider and a woman at that. On arrival, Beatrix Potter finds the woman she was to board with, Abigail Tolliver, has died unexpectedly and foul play is suspected. Beatrix rents a room at Belle Greene and begins to get a feel for her farm from Mr. Jennings who she hopes will stay on to run it for her. But the town is uneasy with Miss Tolliver's death, a missing painting, a theft at the school, a head teacher that seem bent on mischief and mayhem, and now a London woman owning a local farm.

Since the book is based on an actual historical figure, Beatrix Potter, the story must fit into the spaces in her life not covered by her diaries, writings, letters, and other documentation. I haven't read much about Potter and knew little of her except for her children's books and her love of nature, biology, and science. I was enchanted by the story. The character of Beatrix Potter is rich in contradictions and yet steeped in the traditions and strictures of her time. Albert has given us a woman who yearned for love, independence, and growth but who felt obligated to obey her parents every whim at the expense of her own happiness. Yet, Potter's mind is quick, concise, and her courage, especially when needed by others, is unfailing. I hope to be able to take advantage of some of the suggested resources listed in the back of the book to learn more of Beatrix Potter's life.

The story is a wonderful mix of characters including animals as well as humans. The point of view shifts from the animal views to those of humans with distinct and interesting contrasts for the same events. The mystery is low key and while the solution is fitting and satisfying it's not so much the mystery as the wonderful insights into small town mores and society. This is truly a town filled with believeable people living their lives in 1905 England.

Reading the story is a quite trip in time and a delightful vacation in another place with people you may end up caring about as if they were your own neighbors.

Book also contains a Historical Note, Glossary, List of Resources, and recipes for Tatie Pot, Sponge Cake, Elsa'a Grape's Gooseberry Sauce, Bertha Stubbs's Rhubarb and Strawberry Tart, Gingersnaps, and Mrs. Stokes's Treacle Pudding.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Another engaging cozy. 27 Mar 2006
By Janece T. Suarez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Susan Wittig Albert (and her husband) are no strangers to creating characters that live and breathe. This author has yet again managed to create a very engaging story along with her quirky characters. In this series her animal characters are just as believable and enjoyable as the human characters are. I am planning to read it as one of our family read aloud stories, even though I just finished reading it and am looking forward to the next installment of this series.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Cozy, leisurely--and rich as a currant scone 28 Sep 2009
By Jody - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Apart from Peter Rabbit and the rest of the menagerie, part of every childhood, I've been fond of Beatrix Potter since viewing The Tale of Beatrix Potter on Masterpiece Theater in the early 1990s; rooting for her as she went from repressed Victorian spinster to successful published author, through her tragic love affair, her bid for independence at Hill Top Farm, and her well-earned happiness in later life.

Susan Wittig Albert has done an amazing thing with her Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter. She's incorporated the character of Beatrix Potter into cozy village mysteries with overtones of Miss Marple and Potter's own animal stories. The villages of Near and Far Sawrey are full of similar undercurrents to those of St. Mary Meade and far from being twee, the animals are active participants. Their observations and machinations are integral parts of the story, and provide gentle humor and plot twists as needed. The beauty of the area around Lake Windermere is on every page, and how Beatrix Potter changes and is changed by by Sawrey and its inhabitants is a wonderful weekend read.

Hill Top Farm contains several mysteries; was Miss Tolliver murdered? What happened to the Parish Register, Miss Tolliver's Constable, and the School Roof Fund? Can city mouse Tom Thumb find happiness with Teasel after Hunca-Munca's tragic death? Why did Miss Tolliver leave her cottage to a near stranger? What will happen to the Jennings?

The characters are varied and interesting, not the least is the rather shy and repressed Miss Potter, whose timid forays into independence are chronicled most believably. From Miss Potter's inimitable pets Josey, Mopsy and Mrs. Tiggy Winkle, the animals of Near Sawrey, Crumpet, Max and Felicia Frummety, the humans such as the aptly named Miss Crabbe, the almost-outrageous Miss Barwick, and the solicitor Mr. Heelis. Though we know one of these characters will become of increasing importance, it'll be so much fun to see how Ms. Albert tells the story.

These books are not to be read in a hurry, nor by a reader with a short attention span. They are to be savored and enjoyed. While the pace may seem slow to readers of contemporary mysteries, the book is full of the charm of a small English village at the turn of the 20th century, and the interdependence and kindness of those who live there. Ms. Albert is pitch-perfect.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Cute but Slow 8 Mar 2007
By Mark Baker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Beatrix Potter, successful author, has bought a farm in the Lake District of England. She loves the area and is hoping to use it to set up an independent life from her parents.

She expects peace and quite in the village of Near Sawrey. But on her first visit, she realizes that's not to be.

Miss Tolliver passed away rather unexpectedly on her birthday. Her death was a shock to all, and the village is buzzing. Additionally, things seem to be disappearing around the village, and Miss Potter gets caught up in the middle.

All this is on top of the personal problems Miss Potter faces. She's still reeling from the death of her fiance just a few months before. And, while she may own Hill Top Farm, she must figure out a way to live there while keeping the current farmers there to run it for her.

I went back and forth on whether I enjoyed the book or not. The pacing is slow, and at times I was ready for things to speed up. Yet at other times I got caught up in events and couldn't put the book down.

The characters were interesting. I especially like the portrayal of Beatrix. I completely believed her temperament from the little I know about this period of her life.

Since the book is about Beatrix Potter, there are lots of animals in the story. While they can't communicate with humans, they can talk to each other and actually play an important part in the story. It's handled in a believable way but might bother those who don't like that kind of thing.

There were parts that were enjoyable, but on the whole it was an average read.
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