Following the adventures of an adorable little mouse called Pip who lives with her parents amongst the contents of an Umbrella shop. Pip sadly loses her parents in a bomb blast – the books setting is World War Two. The reader is in for a fantastic literary journey, leaving you lost for words.
Pip survives the bomb blast that took her parents because her inquisitive nature meant she had snuck out of the family nest while they slept. When she then becomes an orphan she is fortunate to cross paths with a dog called Dickin, a search and rescue dog recruited to help the war effort.
Through Dickin advising Pip on how best to survive now shes all alone the pair head off to places the rescue dog knows to be safe for orphaned animals, and then a series of events involving some savoury characters conclude with Pip sailing down the river thames, alone in her umbrella that has accompanied her since the bombing of the umbrella shop, determined to cross the ocean and arrive in France, intent eventually on a destination of Italy where her mum originated from, hoping to be reacquainted with some relatives at an Umbrella Museum.
Thankfully the little mouse is not alone for long as she is reunited with Hans, a Rat introduced to her by Dickin during Pip’s time in London and their adventures begin with them navigating the sea using the stars in the night sky. What a truly magical story.
What ensues is the biggest adventure imaginable and the lead character is just a mouse. That said, young Pip goes above and beyond to prove that she is worthy of the assistance she requires to safely travel, and through her enduring journey becomes so much more confident, capable, determined, passionate and brave making her size irrelevant in it all as she has the biggest most positive impact of them all.
This story is written from the animals point of view through out, detailing the animals part in fighting the war. It is such a brilliant concept to have animals mimicking human behaviour through the course of a major event, in this case World War Two, and it makes for a hugely interesting story.
When the animals face dilemmas and destruction it is directly linked to the human fighting, especially as they work as a team to positively impact the war. This team agree to help Pip in return for her assistance in trying to end the War. Complete with animal spies, intelligence and their own enemy (their enemy counterpart), the animals complete their own missions to support the human effort.
Pip being so small and agile has huge tactical advantages and she quickly becomes a trusted and key member of the team. This captivates the reader as you read finding yourself willing Pip to succeed, with some edge of your seat moments and dreading their defeat. During my reading of the book I was advocating Pip making it safely to the Umbrella Museum in Italy, hoping that being reunited with family members would help fill the void losing her parents has left, Pip’s destiny within the book is much deserved given all she has endured.
Author Anna Fargher has created a masterpiece with this debut that is undoubtedly a modern day classic that will be cherished by all that read The Umbrella Mouse. The vivid content immerses you within the story from the offset, giving a whole new perspective on WW2 and an understanding as to the struggle and severity endured by those involved and living during that period (on all sides) with emphasis on the animals, often forgotten about entirely during disasters such as War, giving them all a hugely deservant voice.