Inspired by my fellow book group member, Judy, who was exuberant about her recent re-reading of Heidi, I dug out the copy I acquired years ago and I've started re-reading it myself, simultaneously reading it aloud to my older daughter (she seems to like it so far).

Sometimes it feels as if my reading diet consists of torrid YA, pretentious literary fiction and ponderous non-fiction. Reading Heidi is like taking a draught from a refreshing Alpine stream, or a nourishing bowl of fresh goat's milk.

But I have to confess that my love of Heidi originates from a less-than-pure source. I didn't read the original (in translation) until I was an adult. The Heidi I adored was actually a Little Golden Book, which I think might have been based on the Shirley Temple movie version -- looking at Heidi's very inauthentic golden curls in the illustrations*, I suspect this may have been the case! The Heidi of the Johanna Spyri book is dark-haired and lively, while Clara is fair and languid.
There were two elements of the LGB version of Heidi that particularly appealed to me, and perhaps this   shows what a sedentary child I was. The first thing was Heidi's dear little bed in the hayloft; the other was Clara's couch (Clara being too feeble to walk). By a happy chance, my grandmother had a chaise longue in her house which was exactly the same shape as Clara's. One of my favourite games was to drape a blanket over my legs and pretend to be Clara. Ah, bliss, to lie on a couch all day and read!
The absolute simplicity of Heidi's life with the Alm-Uncle, their sparse possessions, and the beauty of their mountain home, is still wonderfully appealing. There is part of me (the part that goes to yoga camp) that loves the idea of living in a cottage halfway up a mountain, with only wildflowers and goats and the wind for company.

But I bet I wouldn't like it much when it snowed.

* By Corinne Malvern, according to Professor Internet

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