Book Review: The Borrowers

The Borrowers (The Borrowers, #1)The Borrowers by Mary Norton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I must live a very sheltered life because I had never heard of this set of books…until recently. I vaguely remember seeing the advertisements for the movie with John Goodman in it, but I don’t think I actually watched the movie. And now I am told by a very reliable source that there was a TV series too!


Honestly, I don’t know how this happened. However, one of my Christmas presents was a DVD called The Secret World of Arrietty. I love animated movies. They feed my inner love for fantastical themes. What can I say, I’m a child at heart who really wants to believe in magical things, and little people living in my house is right up there, so the premise of the story is perfect for me.

Anyway, after watching and enjoying the movie I set about finding out if there were others planned and to my pleasure discovered the book set. I brought myself a late Christmas present or early birthday present or whatever else sounds acceptable and started reading immediately.


Underneath the kitchen floor is the world of the Borrowers—Pod and Homily Clock and their daughter, Arrietty. In their tiny home, matchboxes double as roomy dressers and postage stamps hang on the walls like paintings. Whatever the Clocks need they simply “borrow” from the “human beans” who live above them. It’s a comfortable life. Comfortable but boring if you are a kid. Only Pod is allowed to venture into the house above, because the danger of being seen by a human is too great. Borrowers who are seen by humans are never seen again. Yet Arrietty won’t listen. There is a human boy up there, and Arrietty is desperate for a friend…but then Arrietty is seen. Suddenly it seems everyone in the house-hold is after the Borrowers—except the one person who can help them. And so the desperate Clocks must trust their fates to the most dreaded of creatures…a human bean.


I want to believe in magic. It’s a life line out of a sometimes dreary life. But sometimes it’s hard to grasp and I find myself saying that I have to ‘grow up’ at some stage. But then The Borrowers came along and I can easily believe that little people exist who ‘borrow’ things. How often have you put something down and a moment later it’s gone? And what about all those times when you’ve gone to retrieve something, and you know exactly where you put it, only to find it isn’t there? This happens to me all the time.

It’s not hard to imagine how a story like this could create a world of imagination and excitement for children—the age group the story was written for. I’m not a child but I found the story and the characters delightful.

I literally couldn’t put it down. I would tell myself, “just one more chapter,” but would read three more instead. I wanted to know what would happen next. I didn’t want to leave their world. I was enjoying it too much.

The book was first published in 1952, so the wording is a little old-fashioned, but that doesn’t distract from the reading. It enhances it to some degree. I’m not a lover of long descriptions but in this book the descriptions are different because they are showing us the uses of the items that have been borrowed and used by the Clock family. It’s brilliant. The author plants scenes in your mind and allows you to live the life of the borrowers. And I see this as a talent because children will want to keep reading, and isn’t that a good thing?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s recommended to all readers—young and old, and everyone in between.

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