Review of 'The Fairy Caravan'

The Fairy Caravan by Beatrix Potter

the_fairy_caravan.jpg One of Beatrix Potter's lesser known works, “The Fairy Caravan” tells the story of a guinea pig whose friends help solve his hair problems by applying a tonic leading to excessive locks. Feeling more confident in himself Tuppenny decides to see the world, soon joins a miniature travelling circus. As Sandy the dog, Paddy Pig, Jenny Ferret and Pony Billy travel around the countryside we are treated to a number of small stories along the way.

Intended for older readers, “The Fairy Caravan” was never intended to be published in the UK as Potter deemed it too autobiographical (she even features as an off-screen character here) as it touches on aspects of living in the English Lake District and areas in which she lived. It includes a lot of local vernacular and is, at times, difficult to understand though this is somewhat mitigated by a glossary in the back of the edition I read (though it is perhaps not as complete as I would have liked). This is not a short book at more than 230 pages though, of course, the printing is quite large…Unlike her other animal books, this is not something a reader could polish off in an hour. My edition features a number of Potter's trademark charming illustrations in black and white as well as a central set of colour plates.

I can't say I was a big fan of this. The stories are generally too simple (even for a child writer) or they meander with little, if any, point (this is actually remarked upon by one of the characters having sat through hearing one). The book itself just ends with no warning whatsoever leaving us to only wonder what happened to Tuppenny and the other members of the troupe. Sure, it is still charming, and wonderfully light (though it does have the occasional off-scene hint of violence) but it is decidedly tedious and, dare I say it, boring. Fans would be better off with her more famous “Peter Rabbit” series, this one for die-hard Potter-ites and completists only.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2020-11-28

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: 1929

ISBN: 9780141353883