Monday, April 4, 2011

Heidi - Review

Emma and I just finished reading Johanna Spyri's classic Heidi.  Heidi is a little joyous girl who finds herself in daunting circumstances and yet still gives life and hope to all around her.  The story is set on the Swiss Alps (and a little in Frankfurt).
Heidi's parents both died in quick succession.  Her maternal aunt unceremoniously dumps Heidi at the doorstep of her gruff paternal grandfather.  Heidi seems to be the picture of perfect childhood innocence and wonder.  She engages life with amazing joy and resiliency.  One of the most beautiful parts of this story is how Heidi's joy is a healing force in the lives of those around her. 
First, Heidi softens the hard shell and bitter heart of her grandfather.  After losing his wife and daughter and experiencing some untold rejections, he turned inward retreating to his hut on the mountain and shunning the company of others.  But with Heidi's advent, he begins to have hope again - partially because he experiences the joys of loving and being loved again.
Second, Heidi is "hired out" as a playmate for Klara, a rich handicapped girl in Frankfurt.  Heidi is altogether too unsophisticated for the liking of the housekeeper and nanny, but her joyful innocence wins the day and adds life to the dreary household.  Eventually, when Klara returns with Heidi to the Alps for a visit, the mountain environment and hopeful air actually works a healing miracle in Klara as well.
Third, mixed into this story is a healing that Heidi's friendship works on her doctor.  He has recently lost his wife and daughter and has a great weight of sadness always about him.  However, his time with Heidi, her unfiltered affection for him, friendship with Heidi's grandfather, and time in the beauty of the Alps work healing in the good doctor's soul.  He eventually retires from Frankfurt to live near Heidi and her grandfather and the Alps. 
At times the story is overly simplistic, and at other times the language is archaic or stiff.  However, the overall story is heart-touching.  Heidi is a beautiful story of the power of simple love and appreciation of the wonder of life.  Emma loved it (once she got into it), and I really enjoyed reading it to her. 
The Josh rating: JJJJ.
Post a Comment