Anna's Reviews > Heidi

Heidi by Johanna Spyri
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's review
Aug 15, 12

Recommended for: Fans of classics, children
I own a copy, read count: 10 +

** spoiler alert ** This book is a classic.

An adventuresome and lively girl named Heidi is taken by her Aunt Detie to live with her grandfather high in the Swiss Alps. Her grandfather, however, is a foul-tempered and antisocial man who lives the life of a recluse- warily referred to by the villagers as "Uncle Alp". Despite this, he takes Heidi in and eventually warms to her righteous and trusting nature. Meanwhile, Heidi immediately takes to the life in the mountains. She befriends Peter the goatherd, and the two roam the mountain meadows daily like the carefree children they are. Heidi has a strong sense of justice by nature, and jumps on the chance to correct any small misfortune- the poverty of Peter's family, the illness of his grandmother, and even Peter's unwillingness to go to school in winter. In convincing her grandfather to help right these wrongs, she also inadvertently helps to redeem him in the eyes of the villagers.

However, just as things seem to be settling down, more trouble arises. The pastor from Dorfli, the village down the mountain, visits Uncle Alp and asks that Heidi be sent to school in the winter, like Peter and the other children. He also suggests that they come down from the mountain in winter, so that she can get to school more easily. Uncle Alp detests Dorfli and its inhabitants and refuses, saying that there is no need for Heidi to be educated, as she is perfectly happy up in the mountains.

Not long afterwards, Detie shows up again. She is working for a rich family in Frankfurt, and has discovered that the family is looking for a lively young girl to play with their daughter, a cripple. She decided to pick up Heidi and present her as a candidate, fully expecting both Heidi and Uncle Alp to be pleased with this arrangement. When she discovers the reverse is true, she and Uncle Alp have an argument and he loses his temper, telling her to take Heidi and leave. She does so, assuring Heidi absentmindedly that if she goes, she will be able to send Peter's family as many nice things as she wants.

While Heidi gets along very well with the invalid Clara and the various servants of the house, she is unsuited to city life and gets into all sorts of mishaps. She is constantly punished by Clara's governess Miss Rottenmeier for her lack of manners and education. Heidi is immensely homesick and attempts to run away, but is caught. Clara's kind Grandmamma sees her misery, and teaches her to read and pray to God.

Heidi proves to be so miserable that her health deteriorates and she takes to sleepwalking and dreaming of going home. The servants see her and mistake her for a ghost, but Mr Sesemann intervenes and discovers the true problem. It is decided that Heidi must return home for her own sake, and she goes delightedly. When she returns, she convinces her Grandfather that God loves him and uses her small allowance to provide for Peter's ill Grannie.

Clara had been meant to visit Heidi, but proves to be too ill. Her Doctor goes in her stead. When he sees how happy and healthy Heidi is, he decides that it would do Clara good to visit her. It is all arranged, and Clara is taken up the mountain with her wheelchair to Uncle Alp's house. She and Heidi are delighted to see one another, and she becomes a good deal healthier from the environment. She also goes out with Heidi and Peter to the meadows each day, a fact which delights Heidi and upsets Peter, who is not used to having a rival for Heidi's affection.
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