Mary Norton’s The Borrowers Avenged (1982)
Illus. Beth and Joe Krush
Harcourt Inc, 1998

Had I been a loyal follower of this series in the 1950s and 1960s when they were published, I’d’ve been hard pressed to wait 16 years for the next volume of Mary Norton’s borrowers’ stories.

As it is, I only had to wait a day between The Borrowers Aloft and Poor Stainless and The Borrowers Avenged.

Even so, I was still eager to leave the talk of “human beans” (as Arrietty calls us) behind and move to the doings of the borrowers in Chapter Four.

From a storytelling perspective, however, it makes sense to fill the gaps in the narrative.

Of course readers want to know what’s been happening with Miss Menzies and Mr Pott (who have been so worried about the Clock family’s disappearance), and the doings of Sidney and Mabel Platter (who were the cause of the Clock family’s disappearance, but who have, since, discovered that the Clock family has disappeared on them).

Ultimately, readers are returning to Mary Norton’s series because they want news of the borrowers, but their lives are under threat, so tracking the humans is a necessary part of the story.

“Oh, no, Sidney. I mean, vigils and felonies — those I can get used to. But what you’re suggesting now…well, that wouldn’t be very nice, not murder, dear. Might involve the police –”

Oh, yes: the Platters are delightfully fun villains.

But although they cast a shadow over the whole narrative, the bulk of it is devoted to the doings of the borrowers themselves.

And, as usual, it’s a changeable life they lead.

“And it’s a nice old house,” Pod said. “We’re sorry to be leaving it.”
Peagreen looked surprised. “But this young lady here…your daughter…well, I gathered from her you had only just come?”
“That’s true,” said Pod, “but there are difficulties…” He sighed.

But Pod and Homily and Arrietty are nothing if not resourceful: they overcome these difficulties and make a new home for themselves, one which provides a fitting and satisfying background to the conclusion of this beloved series.

Earlier books in this series were re-reads for me, but this is my first foray into The Borrowers Avenged; it’s every bit as well-written and enjoyable as the earlier volumes in the series. (The Borrowers; The Borrowers Afield; The Borrowers Afloat; The Borrowers Aloft; Poor Stainless)

Have you been reading serially of late?