Cover detail of Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

For those of a certain age, living in the UK in the very early 1980s, what I am about to tell you may spark a memory or two. Each summer holiday, there was a choice of 2 long-running children's TV series imported from foreign climes. There was the bold, brash 'Huckleberry Finn and Friends' and the far gentler 'Heidi'.

Read my review of Little Women by Louisa M.Alcott

Interspersed with episodes of 'Why Don'y You?' these formed the bedrock of my summer holiday squash breaks. I am telling you all of this because today's review is children's classic Heidi by Johanna Spyri and in my mind's eye, I always read the book with the TV series actors playing the major roles.

The Plot

Five year-old Heidi goes to live with her grandfather in his lonely hut high up in the Alps. She quickly learns to love her new life with him. But her strict Aunt decides that Heidi must be sent away again to live in town. Heidi cannot bear being away from the mountains and is determined to return to the happiness of life with her Grandfather.

My Thoughts

This was such a nostalgic read for me and I loved it and the sweet message it conveys. First of all, let us begin with the beautiful landscapes of the Alps. Heidi's life is truly idyllic. Waking on a bed of soft, sweet hay, drinking the freshest goat's mils and spending her days in the meadows with the gentle sounds of the goat bells tinkling. A simple meal of home-baked bread, goats cheese and fresh meats help Heidi grow big and strong before going to sleep under a carpet of stars. It is heavenly. When Heidi is taken away by her Aunt to live in Frankfurt, we feel her yearning and painful loss for the Alps.

But she makes a wonderful friend in Clara. We have lots of adventures in Frankfurt, but Heidi misses her home and finally the family realise that Heidi thrives best in the Alps. It is here she can be free. From there the action moves back to Dörfli and Clara comes to visit, there the Alps have a magical effect on Clara's health.

This is a tale of finding one's way back home, of friendship and of the majestic Alps. It's lovely, gentle and for a time I felt like a small child on my summer holidays again.