The Tale of Holly How Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Tale of Holly How

A middle age British woman becomes a small-town farmer and works her way towards befriending the locals and solving the murder of a local shepherd. Beatrix Potter has found a home of her own at Hill Top Farm, Near Sawrey, in England's Lake District. During the summer of 1906 she purchases pigs for her farm and works to renovate the buildings.
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Local residents Dimity Woodcock and her brother Miles live at Tower Bank House. Miles is Justice of the Peace and has been in charge of finding a new village teacher. Lady Longford from Tidmarsh Manor arrives to inform her that Miles is not to look any further because she has found a new head teacher, Dr. Harrison Gainwell. Lady Longford has also reluctantly agreed to let her granddaughter, Caroline, live at the Manor. Miss Martine, Lady Longford's assistant, does not like Caroline and puts unfair ideas into Lady Longford's head.

Caroline is very unhappy at the Manor and likes to sneak out to write in her diary in an abandoned house on the hill. She befriends a local boy, Jeremy Crosfield. The badgers of Near Sawrey live near that hill, and they are concerned about suspicious activities in their surroundings.

Sarah Barwick moves into Anvil House and sets up a bakery. She befriends Dimity, but other villagers are not so welcoming. Margaret Nash, a quiet, gentle local teacher, hopes to be named head teacher. Everyone assumes she will be, but she hears shocking rumors that Dr. Gainwell has been selected.

Beatrix purchases sheep from a neighboring shepherd, Ben Hornby. She heads off with a local dog, Rascal, to pick them up. As they drive by Issac Chance's farm, she wonders if Issac, a conniving farmer, will try to buy out Ben when he retires. Ben is missing, and when Beatrix wanders up the hill she finds him murdered. Beatrix is upset and wants to find out who killed him. Badger stealing occurs around Near Sawrey, and Jack Ogden is the prime suspect. There have been rumors of illegal badger baiting competitions nearby. The animals and the Sawrey villagers begin their simultaneous investigations of the murder of Ben Hornby. Dr. Butters decides Ben was hit from behind with a large, blunt object.

Beatrix sees that Caroline is lonely, and she drives to the Manor to loan Caroline her guinea pig, Tuppenny. She meets Miss. Martine and develops a strong dislike for her. On the way she also finds clues of illegal badger baiting. The villagers start gossiping about the pipe found in Ben's hands when he was murdered. The initials on the side appear to be H and S. Caroline overhears Dr. Gainwell and Miss. Martine whispering about a secret plan. She escapes to the abandoned house on the hill.

William Heelis, Miles and the Vicar meet to discuss the new head teacher. They disapprove of Dr. Gainwell and decide to appoint Margaret Nash anyway. That night a large storm rolls in, and Caroline is trapped on the hillside. Search and rescue teams set out to find her. Jeremy finds her and takes her to Beatrix's home. Beatrix talks to the villagers about Miss. Martine and discovers her real name is Florence Maybrick. Mrs. Maybrick murdered her husband and wants to get at Lady Longfield's money. Dr. Gainwell is really her brother, Kenneth. A trap is set and Mrs. Maybrick is caught and taken away.

The Constable and Miles set another trap for the badger baiting. They find Jack Ogden running the show, and along with the support of the animals, destroy the activities and free the badgers. Jack is arrested and also convicted of murdering Ben since his badger tongs and pipe were at the scene of the crime. Beatrix recovers her missing sheep and dreams up a new story.
Best part of story, including ending: Beatrix Potter stories capture my interest, and it is an easy read since the setting and descriptions are very light and whimsical.

Best scene in story: A favorite scene is when Tuppenny heads out into the store and finds his way into the Badger den. He is very wet and shaggy and presents quite the amusing picture to the proper Badger clan. He has a terrible time speaking his mind, and that adds to the confusion.

Opinion about the main character: Beatrix Potter is inquisitive and friendly, and she has quite the imagination. She cares for others and goes out of her way to assist in times of trouble.

The review of this Book prepared by Emily Clayton a Level 1 Blue Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of The Tale of Holly How

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 30%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 50%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   very upbeat How difficult to spot villain?    -   Moderately Challenging Time/era of story:    -   1900-1920's What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   40% Murder of certain profession?    -   farmer Kind of investigator    -   amateur citizen investigator Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Any non-mystery subplot?    -   life in small town Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   writer Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Race    -   British


Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK Small town?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Susan Wittig Albert Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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