The Little Country, published in 1991, is a truly magical book. It speaks to people who love books, music, magic and scenery. It weaves together two stories: the contemporary tale of Janey Little, a Cornish musician, and a story perhaps written by her grandfather’s best friend many years before about Jodi Shepherd, a similarly aged young woman living in the same town.
While both tales were fascinating, I did find the switch back and forth between stories a little confusing in the beginning, especially with the similarities between the women. Keep going, as the confusion will lessen and this book is worth it.
Basic synopsis is that Janey finds a book in her grandfather’s attic and begins to read it. The book tells the story of how Jodi Shepherd, many years before, got involved with the Smalls (tiny people), the village witch and fairyland. The book itself, by being read, triggers a powerful influence on some unpleasant people who have been searching for it and head to the village to try to steal it, believing it to hold arcane powers. Janey and her family and friends must band together to protect the book in similar fashion to how Jodi must help the Smalls. I don’t want to say too much about the story, because I feel like it is better to let the stories surprise you.
The book occurs in what must be one of the most picturesque places on the planet, a small village just up the coast from Penzance. Internet searches show me that the town and many of the places used in the book (like some ancient standing stones) actually exist. Music plays a huge role in the stories, so the book should be read while listening to British folk music (although in a pinch, Mumford and Sons will suffice). I also recommend reading it while lying in a hammock or on a sailboat. It’s that sort of book.