Yesterday I got a book in the mail that used to be one of my absolute favorites. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase! Naturally, my only sensible option was to read it right there on the spot. It was an easy read, and only took me a few hours, probably because it was more meant for a ten-year-old than me, but that’s okay. It was everything I remembered, and I declare it still a favorite.
The story begins at Willoughby Chase, an enormous mansion where a little girl named Bonnie and her parents live. A pack of bloodthirsty wolves lives outside, but nobody minds them, because it’s warm and safe inside. Bonnie’s orphaned cousin Sylvia is coming to stay with them, and so is their new governess Miss Slighcarp. Miss Slighcarp is a fourth cousin of some sort, and has come highly recommended.
Most unfortunately, as soon as Bonnie’s parents depart on a voyage round the world, Miss Slighcarp promptly proves herself an absolute scoundrel. She begins by shutting Bonnie up in a cupboard, and dismissing all of the kind servants. Then, with the help of her partner Mr. Grimshaw, she proceeds to destroy all of the papers pertaining to Willoughby Chase, replacing them with forgeries which deed everything to her. Not only that, the children are told that Bonnie’s parents have drowned, and they are sure Miss Slighcarp contrived to send them off on an un-safe boat.
Bonnie and Sylvia discover a secret passage, and with the help of a few devoted friends, make various plans to thwart the evil Miss Slighcarp. All is lost, however, when she sends them off to an awful orphanage. Bonnie, who is a bit of a fireball, cannot stand this terrible place, and the wicked director Mrs. Brisket, and it is not long before she plans an escape with the help of her friend Simon.
Eventually, Simon, Sylvia, and Bonnie reach London, where at last they find people to help them, and they march back to Willoughby Chase with the police to arrest Mr. Grimshaw and Miss Slighcarp. But what’s this? Willoughby Chase is now a school for the children of nobility! All the lovely furnishings are gone, and the walls are covered in blackboards. Not only that, the chase is also occupied by Mrs. Brisket, and all of her mistreated orphans.
And, surprise of surprises, just as they arrest Miss Slighcarp and Mrs. Brisket, Bonnie’s parents appear. They aren’t drowned after all. And so, of course, Bonnie and her parents do the only sensible thing to be done, and lock the villains in the slimy dungeon, and start a school for mistreated orphans. And there you have it! Not realistic, perhaps, but a most delightful tale anyhow.