The Borrowers Aloft is the fourth book in the series, and was published in 1961. I believe it was originally intended to be the last book about the borrowers, because the final book (The Borrowers Avenged) was not published until 1982. It’s interesting to see this as the original place that Norton wanted to leave her story and characters. Much as I love the last book, in some ways I wish she left these conclusions intact…
In this story, the Clock family has reached the mythical village of Little Fordham — a miniature model village built by a retired railway man, Mr. Pott. Here the borrowings are rich, and everything in the town is built as if expressly for the use of the borrowers. Pod, Homily, and Arrietty move into Vine Cottage, and seem to be settling down into their new life when a most unexpected thing happens. They are kidnapped by Mr. Platter, owner of a rival model village, and kept in an attic all winter while Mr. Platter builds their cage: a lovely little house with a glass front and nowhere for the borrowers to escape the merciless eye of the public. They are doomed.
For some reason Pod reminds me so strongly of my own father in this story. It’s fascinating to see how they react to the knowledge of their inevitable doom at the hands of the Platters — and how they come up with an ingenius way to escape at last. The humor comes out again in Norton’s choice of names: Mr. Pott and Mr. Platter, owners of the rival model villages.
In this book it becomes quite clear that Norton intends Arrietty and Spiller to marry. He is concerned — showing it only as much as his reserve will allow — and Arrietty talks to her parents quite openly about marrying him. What I don’t like in the last book is the hint that Norton changed her mind, and Spiller and Arrietty don’t end up together. I wish she had left it where it was in this book… on the horizon, but not in the least urgent. The last scene, in which Arrietty promises to never speak to a human being again, is quite powerful.
I adore these books and I cannot recommend them highly enough. If you’ve never read them, you’re in for a treat.