The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle

More in the Series – Beatrix Potter
“More in the Series” scores the other books in a series where one (or more) of the books have made it into the 1001 Books list. Mostly because I’m a bit of a completionist. 

POINTS: 3 out of 10.

Bechdel: 1 point
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story:  2 points
Discretionary ideological points: 0 points.

I have to admit to having a very deep personal soft spot for this story. My grandmother had this book when I was a child, and it conjures up very strong sense memories of her house, smelling like roast lamb and mint and the tick-tocking of her clock in the study/library.

That being said, this one does actually pass the Bechdel. Lucy and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle have quite a lot of dialogue, most of which is about laundry, not a man. I mean, they’re talking about laundry, so it’s not exactly a feminist coup, but nevertheless, it passes the Bechdel test, and that’s been rare enough in this project to be note-worthy.

That’s its one shining light, though, I am afraid. The rest is a very standardly British tale in which there is no sign of any diversity. Mrs Tiggy-Winkle is a washer-woman, and as such much of the tale is exceedingly gendered. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the human protagonist is Lucy and not, say, Bob.

Like all things Potter though, the illustrations are charming and detailed, and C was suitable enthralled, although he was a bit confused by the clothes mentioned – petticoats and handkersniffs are not really part of the landscape of a modern five year old growing up in New Zealand.

It doesn’t score high – it is a product of its time, after all. But I did get that strong  nostalgia while reading it, and that is a powerful thing.

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