Book Title: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
Author: C.S. Lewis
Number in #100bookproject: 8
Level of Recommendation: High
Favourite Quote: “And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning – either a terrifying one, which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again.”
Review: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is a children’s classic and one of those beloved novels that has been adapted for radio, TV and movies. It’s also a story I’ve loved as a child and after completing the book today I can earnestly say The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe deserves, without a shadow of a doubt, my love and all its fame.
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is a story told from the perspective of an omniscient narrator (who takes on the role of the storyteller), who is effectively speaking to an audience of children. I won’t take time to go into the plot of the story in this review because I feel as though most would know the plot from the movies, etc., but also I desperately want you to read the book :). Now back to the technical review. Throughout the book, Lewis interjects different thoughts and opinions into the narrative.
The most beautiful example of this is this scene after Aslan’s sacrifice; “I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been – if you’ve been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you – you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing was ever going to happen again.”
This is clear authorial intrusion, as the author is directly addressing the reader, yet somehow Lewis made this technique work as he expertly sprinkles it throughout the narrative. The authorial intrusions appear when there is a moment of great emotional significance and it’s as though Lewis is taking a break from the overall story to communicate the emotional impact we, as readers, are supposed to feel.
Lewis also uses this technique a few times to make sense some of his descriptive language; “ ‘Wherever is this?’ said Peter’ voice, sounding tired and pale in the darkness (I hope you know what I mean by a voice sounding pale).”
This technique gives the reader the sense of being a child, and this idyllic image is created. An image of being a child, sat on the floor listening to Lewis as he sits in on a rocking chair in the corner reading this story out of a big leather-bound book, and taking the time to explain things to you as he goes. It’s not at all condescending or belittling. Instead, it’s charming and somehow gives the reader a sense of security and intimate connection as the story progresses.
Aside from this technique Lewis was in every sense of the word, a true storyteller. His characters are vivid, emotionally complicated and loveable/hateable. His imagery as he creates the world of Narnia is stunning, and his overall plot is impactful and unique. It is perhaps, his ability to create such a fantastical story while maintaining a quick pace that makes The Lion, The Watch and The Wardrobe so incredible. In well under 200 pages Lewis created an entire world, a slew of characters with complicated backstories, a true sense of English temperament and family duty, a supernatural history to the world of Narnia, and emotional resonance that makes the reader not only breeze through the story, but eagerly anticipated the next installment.
I cannot stress enough how important The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is to read, especially for children (as it is the kind of easy but magnificent read that will make a reader for life) and it is to my regret that it took me this long to read the original (and iconic) version of the story I’ve loved since childhood.
Next Up: 1984 by George Orwell