It's been a long time since I read The Wind in the Willows, or watched the iconic 80s TV series - and this isn't the book I remembered. Before it was an adventure peopled, or animaled, by characters such as Rat, Mole, Badger and Toad. Now, it feels more like a prose-hymn to the deep and transitory nature of friendship, community, the natural world and life.
It's quite a long time since you did any poetry,' he remarked. `You might have a try at it this evening, instead of--well, brooding over things so much. I've an idea that you'll feel a lot better when you've got something jotted down--if it's only just the rhymes.'
The Rat pushed the paper away from him wearily, but the discreet Mole took occasion to leave the room, and when he peeped in again some time later, the Rat was absorbed and deaf to the world; alternately scribbling and sucking the top of his pencil. It is true that he sucked a good deal more than he scribbled; but it was joy to the Mole to know that the cure had at least begun.
Strikingly, there are almost no female characters as those that do show up have minor parts and are mostly not named. I guess this reflects the times (Edwardian) and the original audience (Grahame's son).
The vocabulary is also richer than simple story suggests. I enjoyed looking up some words which are now out-of-common use and may never have been given their obscurity.
Verdict: (T)ode to friendship.