I’m finally back with a new review here at Greenish Bookshelf. I have been reading Heidi by Johanna Spyri for several months, mostly on audio book. I finished it up on my Kindle right before we moved but I haven’t been able to review it until now.
- This book started slow for me. I couldn’t really get into the story until the end of Heidi’s stay in Frankfort. Once she returned to the mountain, I got more into the story.
- Peter was a frustrating character for me. It seemed obvious that he had a huge crush on Heidi but they were so young it just manifested itself as jealousy. 🙂
- Can we just plan our trip to the Swiss Alps right now? I would love to see the majesty and the beauty of those mountains.
- Also, I want to re-watch the movie adaptation of this book because I kept thinking certain events would happen that actually didn’t in the book.
Heidi by Johanna Spyri follows the story of young Heidi–an orphan sent to live with her grandfather in a small hut on a mountain in the Swiss Alps. Heidi adores her mountain home, the goats she helps bring to pasture each morning, and especially her grandfather. Unexpectedly, Heidi is taken to Frankfort by her aunt to be the companion to Clara, an invalid girl needing a friend. The girls become close friends, but Heidi becomes so homesick that she is sent back to the mountain. There, she builds stronger bonds with her grandfather and friends. And she also finds ways to combine her two worlds by bringing her Frankfort family to the mountain.
Heidi is a darling little protagonist. She is always happy and sees the best in people no matter what. I love her relationship with her grandfather and how she changes him. Because of her kindness, grandfather is able to redeem himself from his past and returns to his village and to God. I love that Heidi learns to read and uses that gift to bless others-especially poor grandmother in her hut on the mountain. I think Heidi as a character is a great example of the incredible influence that children can have for good. Heidi also has such a sweet influence on Clara–a girl who seems to have a dull and often lonely life until she meets Heidi.
I love what living on the mountain does for Clara. The richness of life–with the air, stars, flowers, and milk give Clara a new perspective. She is able to change her situation because she finds faith in herself on the mountain. That is truly a great lesson. What is also amazing about Clara is how kind she is despite her circumstances. She has a good relationship with her father and grandmother. And she easily takes to Heidi as well. Her positive attitude is admirable and something I want to emulate more.
Grandfather is my favorite character from this novel. He makes such an inspiring journey from the cold outcast at the start of the novel to loving grandfather and friend at the end. He certainly has experienced many hardships in his life and might be able to justify his seclusion from society. But I love that he lets Heidi bring him back to the world as his best self. I especially enjoyed his return to the village and his visit to the preacher to apologize and make things right. Some of my favorite scenes in the book are when he interacts with Clara when she visits the mountain. He takes care of her with such gentility and genuine love. It seems the mountain brings out the best in all the characters.
I was surprised to find this novel more about scenery than about action. I have read that this novel is Spyri’s most well known because of her beautiful description of the Swiss Alps. I was blown away by the descriptions of the absolutely gorgeous countryside. I would be like Heidi and never want to leave. However, I think the book started slow for me because it lacked much action. Yes, I loved the landscape but more plot movement early would make the novel easier to get into for me.
I also really enjoyed the strong themes of friendship, love, and religion in this novel. It is the friendship between Heidi and Clara that bring a whole group of people together to support one another. It is the love Heidi has for her grandfather that brings him back to society. It is the Frankfort grandmother and her wise advice about God that brings Heidi to strong faith.
Some of my favorite quotes come from Grandmother and Heidi about faith. I have looked as these often since reading and they bring peace to my faith as well.
“When you do not know what more to do you must go and tell everything to God.”
“I have been thinking all day what a happy thing it is that God does not give us what we ask for, even when we pray and pray and pray, if He knows there is something better for us.”
“We must go on praying for everything, for everything, so that God may know we do not forget that it all comes from Him.”
Heidi, pages 144, 195, 196
Overall, a darling children’s classic that I hope to read to my own children one day.