Ahoy there me mateys! While drawin’ up me lists of 2016 for me log, I realized a curious thing – out of 134 books read, not a single one was a re-read. In me enthusiasm of discovery and taking suggestions from me crew, I did not revisit a single old port for plunder! And part of what I love about readin’ is re-visitin’ old friends. So I decided to remedy that and thus created me new category where I take a second look at a previously enjoyed novel and give me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin’ it again . . .
heidi – Johanna Spyri
While recently sailing on the Norwegian Sea with me maman, we had a very nice dinner wherein we discussed favourite books from both of our childhoods. It was a delightful foray into me memories of all the books that me mom read to me when I was young and the lovely purchases she let me make at the local bookstore after every birthday or good report card. One of her beloved books from childhood was Heidi. She read it to me when I was little and I adored it too. In fact it was part of the inspiration for her wanting to visit Switzerland which was another trip we took together back when I was in college.
Later on the flight to head home, I was surprised to find out that 1) not only did the plane’s entertainment include audiobooks but 2) Heidi was one of the offerings. Sadly the photos concerning the audiobooks offered on the plane were eaten by the phone. But I was excited to revisit an old favourite especially after that conversation of nostalgia.
That audiobook only ran about 25 minutes at normal speed. I was startled by what I did remember and was confused by what I believed was left out of the version I listened to. So in no real order, here are some of me thoughts:
- I still love the idea that Heidi helps enrich her Grandfather’s life and make him less of a curmudgeon;
- I love the idea of Heidi scampering through Alpine meadows with the goats;
- I adore Clara and Heidi’s friendship;
- I was still sad at how much Heidi hated living in Frankfurt;
- Peter destroying Clara’s chair was evil;
- I very much enjoyed the audiobook narrator;
- I couldn’t remember how much was missing but it seemed like a ton; and
- All religion had been removed from this version.
The original books were in German and written in 1881 and Goodreads lists over 1,100 editions and yet I could not find a photo of the cover of the version I had as a child. I remember that it was a glossy hardcover with a blue spine that was disintegrating. There were wonderful illustrations that I loved to look at. I have no idea how long it was but assume the story was truncated due to the drawings. I also remember loving a black and white film version of the story too.
So after listening to the super short version of Heidi, I thought I would check out the unabridged version and see what I missed. I know it was a lot because the unabriged audiobook clocks in at 2 hours and 34 minutes according to Amazon. That is quite a difference! So I headed over to Project Gutenberg and checked out a 1916 translation. And it was both better and slightly sillier than I imagined. Some thoughts:
- I continue to adore Heidi and her good-natured cheer;
- I loved Grandfather’s transformation in the longer version as it seemed more natural;
- I think the staff in Frankfurt were silly in how they thought about the ghost and their actions overall;
- Fräulein Rottenmeier was a hateful jerk;
- I can’t believe that Peter gets rewarded at the end because he is a little jerk too;
- The version I read as a child had more parts of the story in it than the audiobook did;
- I didn’t mind the Christian themes in the original;
- The feel-good story of Clara walking was sweet;
- They left both Grandmothers out of the audiobook but the story is better with them in it; and
- I still love the goats!
Basically reading the unabridged version made me happy and I am glad to have revisited it. After reading this book, it put me very much in mind of other childhood favourites I read where the themes involve sick children getting well again. Others I can think of include the lame little prince, pollyanna, and the secret garden.
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
Little orphan Heidi goes to live high in the Alps with her gruff grandfather and brings happiness to all who know her on the mountain. When Heidi goes to Frankfurt to work in a wealthy household, she dreams of returning to the mountains and meadows, her friend Peter, and her beloved grandfather.
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