Book review

The Borrowers by Mary Norton (1952)

Arrietty Clock is a Borrower, although actually, when this story starts, she's never been borrowing in her life. She lives with her father and mother under the floorboards in the kitchen of a rather large, old house. Her father, Pod, regularly goes off borrowing, for the things that the family needs.

Have you ever wondered where all those little lost things go to in a house? All the bottle tops and pins and needles and string and matchboxes and reels of cotton and a hundred and one other things? Well, someone like Pod has probably been round collecting them.

You should see where they live:

Homily was proud of her sitting-room - the walls had been papered with scraps of old letters out of waste-paper baskets, and Homily had arranged the handwriting sideways in vertical stripes which ran from floor to ceiling. On the walls, repeated in various colours, hung several portraits of Queen Victoria as a girl; these were postage stamps, borrowed by Pod some years ago from the stamp-box on the desk in the morning-room. There was a lacquer trinket-box, padded inside and with the lid open, which they used as a settle, and that useful stand-by - a chest of drawers made of match-boxes. There was a round table with a red velvet cloth, which Pod had made from the wooden bottom of a pill-box supported on the carved pedestal of a knight from the chess-set.

As Homily will tell you when you read the book, there used to be many families of Borrowers living in the big house. There were the Overmantels, and the Harpsichords and the Broom-Cupboards, to name a few. But by the time we meet the Clocks, those other families have all gone. Where to? I'm not sure really. But they've most likely gone to live somewhere a bit safer. Arrietty's Uncle Hendreary and Aunt Lupy emigrated with their family to an old badger set in the fields. So that just leaves Arrietty and her parents living a rather lonely life, locked away behind all the gates that Pod has built to keep them safe.

Safe from what? Well, there are the obvious dangers like rats and cats, but the worst thing of all is to be 'seen'. And that, is what happens to Pod.

Now, if you want to know who sees Pod, and what happens next, you will have to read the book. I think you will really enjoy this story.

What can I read next?

If you enjoy The Borrowers, there's more! Mary Norton wrote a series about the little people. Have a look at:

  • The Borrowers Afield
  • The Borrowers Afloat
  • The Borrowers Aloft
  • The Borrowers Avenged

She also wrote a super magic story:

  • Bedknob and Broomstick

You might also like to look at this book by Stephen Elboz. There are some secret residents in this house too:

Or you might enjoy this one by Robert C O'Brien:

And I think you might also enjoy reading about Barney's secret in this book by Clive King:

Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile:

The Borrowers features in these lists: