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Toad Almost Triumphant
on 5 January 2009
This is the second of William Horwood's 'Tales of the Willows' trilogy. (Although later on he wrote a fourth book entitled 'The Willows at Christmas' which is most enjoyable.) However, Toad Triumphant suffers from 'Second Book Syndrome' and never really establishes itself. As always, it is beautifully illustrated by Patrick Benson but the central premise that Toad is facing marriage does not engage the reader as much as Horwood's other Willows books.
It is still an enjoyable yarn and its 12 chapters and well-written prose make it a book that compares favourably with most books that are published these days. Even though this is the weakest of Horwood's Willows books, he gets into the minds and souls of the five principal characters. Toad, Mole, Ratty, Otter and Badger live again which does not happen in some of the attempts to recreate Grahame's golden prose and the joy, magic and good humour of the classic book that was published over 100 years ago can be found in Toad Triumphant along with welcome appearances by the loyal Mole, the resourceful Ratty, the stern Badger, the practical and family-orientated Otter and, of course, the exasperating, infuriating, yet eternally lovable and ultimately triumphant Toad.