REVIEW: The Borrowers by Mary Norton

REVIEW: The Borrowers by Mary NortonThe Borrowers (The Borrowers #1) by Mary Norton
Published: HMH Books for Young Readers (1952), Paperback, 192pg
Source: Bought
Genres: Fiction

The Borrowers are tiny people hidden away in houses and safe places, living off what they borrow from human Beans. Pod and Homily want daughter Arriety to be safe, never seen, but she feels lonely and trapped. The Boy visiting Great Aunt Sophy brings doll furniture in exchange for Arriety reading, until mean housekeeper Mrs Driver calls the rat-catcher.

I love The Borrowers movie,1 despite how different it is from the book. It’s actually an adaptation of more than one Borrowers book– Arriety’s boyfriend Spinner doesn’t show up until the second Borrowers book (I think), and I missed having him in this first book.

But really, it’s a good intro to the series, through the framing is weird. It’s about the author’s (great?) grandmother’s brother and his adventures with the Clocks; there’s this huge distance between the events that’re happening and the reader, which gives the story a kind of dreamy quality. Doesn’t help that, in addition to the distance already in the story itself, The Borrowers was originally written in the 1950s and I’m reading it in 2013. HUGE gap, yes? But it works, because it’s a charming book and I like old kids books anyway.

Borrowers movie
The Borrowers (1997)

I particularly like how Arriety isn’t what you’d consider a typical 1950s passive heroine.2 I like how she fights for the right to go out borrowing with her father, even though he thinks it’s supposed to only be a job for men. And I especially like that she takes chances– maybe dangerous ones, but they ultimately help better her and her family’s life, so it all works out in a very satisfying way indeed.

Will definitely continue reading the rest of the series, and not only because I bought the complete box set.3

Read: August 17, 2013


  1. the one with John Goodman, not the newer animated one, which I haven’t seen yet but will probably love as well, seeing as how I love everything else Hayao Miyazaki does.
  2. or even a Edwardian/Victorian heroine, depending on when the events in The Borrowers takes place. I think it’s supposed to be late 1800s?
  3. I read this article on Tor which kind of made me afraid of the last book, only because I don’t want it to suck. But it probably won’t! Right?

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