Sunday, October 31, 2010
First published in 1820
The story is set in the late 18th-century in Tarry Town, a Dutch settlement in Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod Crane, a long and lanky school teacher, is well liked by the villagers. Good thing for him because rather than keeping a regular abode, Crane mooches stays from house to house for a month at a time. Apparently they don't mind having him around because he is quite a gossip. Sounds like just the guy I'd want to put up for a month. He is also, evidently, quite good at telling stories of ghosts and witchcraft, frequently insinuating that he, himself, has often been accosted by ghosts but is never afraid.
When Ichabod meets Katrina Van Tassel, he has finally met his match--at least he thinks so. But he's competing against "Brom Bones" Van Brunt, the local bully and a lifestyle to which Katrina has grown accustomed. After she leads him on at a party at her home, then turns him down, Ichabod rides off into the night never to be seen again. Was Ichabod the victim the legendary "Headless Horseman," reputed to be a Hessian whose head was blown off during the Revolutionary War and who roams the countryside in search of his head? Or is he the victim of "Brom Bones" who wanted Katrina for himself?
Irving's writing is a dead giveaway as to the time period in which this book was written. Full of description of Ichabod, the valley and even the meal at the party, the story is very slow paced into the wild ride at the end. No gore, no actual violence involved here--just a bit of a scare and a "what-if." Just the kind of story to make you think twice about wandering into the night by yourself.
Happy Halloween! And happy birthday, Mom!