Sunday, August 15, 2010

Heidi | Johanna Spyri

Publication Date: 1880
Author's Country: Switzerland
Original Language: German
Genre: Classics (children's literature)
Pages: 240 [9.2 hours in Audiobook format]

Synopsis (Wikipedia):
"Heidi's Years of Wandering and Learning (German: Heidis Lehr- und Wanderjahre), usually abbreviated Heidi, is a novel about the events in the life of a young girl in her grandfather's care, in the Swiss Alps. It was written as a book "for children and those who love children" as quoted from its subtitle in 1880 by Swiss author Johanna Spyri.  Two sequels, Heidi Grows Up and Heidi's Children, were not written by Spyri, but by her English translator, Charles Tritten. The Heidi books are among the best-known works of Swiss literature."

"Heidi" is a seemingly simplistic children's novel about a young orphaned Swiss girl growing up in the mountains with her grandfather.  She falls in love with the mountains of Switzerland and the simplistic lifestyle and beautiful nature she is surrounded with.  When a relative finds a family for her to live with in Germany, she is forced to move there and befriends Clara, a sick child of a wealthy father.  Heidi comes down with homesickness which has a direct effect on her health, and the doctor orders her to go home to Switzerland.  Clara visits with not-so-surprising results.

Nearly everyone Heidi meets falls in love with her.  She is caring and just loves life.  Her innocence is refreshing and her compassion for others is inspiring.  This novel was a feel good story which reminds us how precious all our days on earth are, how a kinship with nature is natural, on how guilt destroys us internally, how God has a plan for us all (or if you're not religious - how not to get upset over bad events because they have the tendency to lead to great things) and in the power of love. 

I was a little taken aback by two things when listening to this work.  One was the simplistic reading of the audiobook narrator, which made the book seem more childish then it would have seemed from my own narration [although kids would probably love this].  The other was the overpowering emphasis on God in the book, which really irritated me.  I suppose that during the time, this was just another important layer in the development of a sweet child of Heidi's nature, but I found it took away from the story.  If you're not a religious person, you can take other things from this... the importance of hope, positive thinking, etc.

This is the first book that I listened to in audiobook format and I must say that it's not the same as actually reading a novel, but none-the-less it was a positive experience that I will delve into again.  I will be very selective with my audiobooks though, choosing works that I probably will never get a chance to read [as my existing reading list is too large... and still growing... for one lifetime].  As far as "Heidi" goes, I would recommend reading it... I think it's a perfect book to read to a child or someone trying to 'get back to basics' in a hectic lifestyle.  Nothing controversial (other than the religious aspect) and a happy ending with an endearing protagonist.


Anonymous said...

Stopping by for the hop! I am a new follower. I need to read some classics brain is getting fried from YA lol. Have a great day!

Danielle @

Lily said...

I love audio books. I listen when I do other things, like driving, or when I take on domestic projects like crocheting or housecleaning. It allows me the luxury of "reading" while getting my to-do list accomplished!

Some readers are definitely better than others. Many of the classics have narrators who can change their voices for the different characters, male and female. I especially love when a song is mentioned in the book and the narrator sings a few bars!! As you well know a good number of the classics contain songs and foreign language passages. It can add a wonderful new dimension to hear the narration done well! I have also loved listening to plays, done by a theatrical company, on audio. Arthur Millers "The Ride Down Mt. Morgan" is one that springs to mind.

Ordinary Reader said...

Hi! There's an award for you at
Thanks, Dianne