Black Hearts in Battersea

Aiken, Joan. Black Hearts in Battersea. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1964.

Reason: July is Kids Month and Pearl lists this as a book best for kids.

The first thing Ms. Aiken wants you to know about Black Hearts in Battersea is that it takes place in the same time period as The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, near the beginning of the nineteenth century. The second thing you should know is that some characters in Wolves are also in Black Hearts. Simon, an orphan who lived in a cave and came to the rescue in Wolves is the main character in Black Hearts. This time Simon is looking for his friend, Dr. Gabriel Field who has mysteriously disappeared after inviting Simon to come study art with him. A mystery ensues when everyone Simon encounters denies even knowing Dr. Field. It is as if the man never existed in Battersea. While waiting for Dr. Field to reappear Simon befriends the Duke of Battersea, gets a job with a blacksmith, and rooms with a suspicious peasant family. It’s a fun tale of adventure, especially after Simon meets bedraggled Dido who gets him in all sorts of trouble.

Author fact: As I mentioned before, Aiken also wrote The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, a book I read in September of 2013. Some are calling this a series so I should have read Black Hearts in Battersea in October of 2013. Bummer.

Book trivia: Black Hearts was illustrated by Robin Jacques.

Nancy said: nothing special.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Best for Boys and Girls” (p 21). This book, interesting enough, is good for boys and girls.

July’s Pages Upon Pages

I have a prediction for July. I will read a crap load of books. Actually, I am cheating. It’s not a prediction because I already know I will. Case in point – yesterday my husband and I spent seven hours on the water. He fished. I read. Yesterday was July 1st so I was already knee-deep in the July Challenge list and thanks to an iPad I had five books with me. I made a decent dent in the “Boat” books:


  • Jackie by Josie by Caroline Preston – in honor of Jacqueline O. Kennedy’s birth month.


  • The Coldest Day: America and the Korean War by David Halberstam – in honor of July being the month the Korean War ended.
  • The Book of Mediterranean Cooking by Elizabeth David – in honor of July being picnic month.

Series Continuation:

  • The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason – to continue the series started in June.
  • Midnight in Ruby Bayou by Elizabeth Lowell – to continue the series started in April.

Others on the list:


  • Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken – in honor of July being Kids Month.


  • Den of Thieves by James B. Stewart – in honor of July being Job Fair month (odd choice, I know).

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Into the Storm: Two Ships, a Deadly Hurricane, and an Epic Battle for Survival by Tristam Koten.

If there is time:

  • Gardens of Kyoko by Kate Walbert – in honor of Japan’s Tanabata Festival.
  • Animals by Alice Mattison – in honor of Mattison’s birth month.
  • Miss Lizzie by Walter Satterthwait – in honor of Lizzie Borden’s birth month.
  • Cop Hater by Ed McBain – to honor McBain’s passing in the month of July.



Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Aiken, Joan. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. New York: Dell Yearling, 1962.

The premise of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is that danger lurks outside the walls of Willoughby Chase in the form of wolves, but it also lurks within in the form of an wicked governess, a different kind of wolf. After Bonnie’s parents depart for a trip Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia are left alone with Miss Slighcarp, a vicious woman determined to make their lives a living hell. A once warm and happy home is turned into a dirty, cold prison. Just when Bonnie and her cousin think it can’t get any worse they are sent off to an orphanage. It takes some trickery and a lot of help from outside friends for the two cousins to make their escape.
As an aside, I have never lived in an area overrun with any dangerous wild animal. Bonnie’s journey to Willoughby Chase is harrowing. The threat of attack by wolves is constant and astounding, especially when one is able to get on the train through an open window.

Even though this was geared towards children I was impressed with vocabulary. there were even a few words I had to look up: crenelated, oubliette and pelisse.

Quotes I liked, “She was cordially hated by the whole school” (p 113).

Reason read: Joan Aiken was born in September.

Author fact: Aiken won the Lewis Carroll award for The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.

Book trivia: On the edition I read Edward Gorey drew the cover illustration.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter “Best for Teens” (p 21).