So I asked yesterday if some people wanted to do a Q and A about the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia.
I unfortunately realized after the fact that Booklikes does not have a way to send messages to multiple people. The only person who seemed like a definite yes was Moonlight Reader so she and I exchanged emails regarding five questions that I have regarding the first book.
First things are first, here is Moonlight Reader's review from her blog:
And here is my review from yesterday:
Here are the five questions and our answers to them below.
1. How old were you when you first read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?
2. How did your feelings change regarding this book as you got older?
3. What is your favorite thing about this book?
4. Who is your favorite character?
5. How did you feel about the ending?
All right, here goes:
1. I was around 8 years old when I first read TLTW&TW.
2. This book is really important to me. It was the first fantasy book I ever read, and has had a tremendous impact on my development as a reader. The first time I read it, I was completely captivated. It was so influential that, even now, reading it provides me a direct connection to who I was as a young reader and a young girl - it is the literary equivalent of Proust's madeleine for me. So, when I read this book, I read it as two people: the girl and the woman. The woman does see flaws in the book - C.S. Lewis's treatment of his two female characters, Susan and Lucy, is troubling to me, even this early in the series. It gets even more troubling in the later books, when he actively severs Susan from the narrative, but even at this early stage, Lewis doesn't give the two Pevensie girls nearly as much autonomy as he does the Pevensie boys. They are not as well-rounded, and are not permitted to make mistakes or participate in the battles or, really, in the government. Lucy is far too perfect, and Susan is far too motherly, to be real.
3. My favorite thing about this book is the Englishness of the fantasy imagery. I love Narnia, I love the talking beasts, I love the snow and Mr. Tumnus's cave, and the sardines on toast and basically everything.
4. Of the four children, I most identified with Susan, which made the betrayal of her fate all that much more devastating to me. Of the non-Pevensie characters, I loved Mr. Tumnus with his humanity and integrity. And the White Witch was a great villain.
5. As a child, I was totally fine with the ending.
Now, I think it is absurd. In my review of Prince Caspian, I wrote this:
"The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ends with Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy tumbling back through the wardrobe as adults and returning to their childhoods, exactly where they left off. Has anyone (else) had that dream where they are back in high school, but can’t figure out why? I have a recurring one – I am still a lawyer, but I’m back at my high school because I need some credit or another in order to graduate (and I haven’t been to class in WEEKS, also, I might possibly have a towel on my head from having just emerged from the shower, but I digress) and I am wandering around trying to explain that I don’t understand why I am here, because I have a graduate degree and a job. The credits I need are always in math, and I haven’t taken a math class in decades and scarcely remember how to multiply without using a calculator. But, again, I digress.
Anyway, C.S. Lewis ignores the part of the story that has the children wandering around like they are me, wondering why they have to go back to the seventh grade when they are, duh, kings and queens of Narnia. Also, possibly, they have experienced romantic, um, love, and have yet been returned to a state of bizarre (emotional) virginity (this is especially difficult to imagine for Lucy, which is presumably why Lewis ignored it. Because, eww)."
So, as an adult, this ending is completely untenable.
1. I just read it for the first time at the age of 35.
2. Well my feelings didn't change because I read it as an adult. If anything I am kind of sad since I think this book would have been right up my alley as a kid. But as I have grown older, I am now more able to see a lot of flaws or logic gaps in books I loved as a kid, looking at you The Babysitter's Club books.
3. Honestly I love the professor the most in this book. His total unquestioning of Lucy talking about Narnia being real and him using actual logic in order to show Peter and Susan that Lucy was probably not lying and that Edmund probably is lying I thought was cleverly done. Most of the times in stories like these, children are human lie detectors and adults are the ones being snowed by someone else.
4. Honestly based on this book I would flat out say Lucy. Maybe because Lucy actually had the nerve to ask Santa Claus why couldn't she be brave too. She reminds me of my niece who is four. She told me the other weekend when she grows up she is going to play football because she likes it and is tough. Her dad (my brother in law) just smiled and said of course she is and of course she will. I don't think I will be giving her this book to read since I think he and my sister may throttle me.
5. Wow. That ending. I really think that C.S. Lewis probably saw it as a happy ending. I saw it as a completely crappy thing to do. You had four children growing up and being well into their early 20s I believe and all of their experiences, dreams, loves, etc. are taken away from them when they are transported back into their own land/time and are the same age that they were when they left. Yes in their time they were only gone maybe 5 minutes. However, readers know that they were really gone at least what 15 years I think. That's a true WTF moment for me as a reader.
If you want to participate please link to a review that you have of the first book along with your responses to the five questions in the comments below.
I thought this would be a fun thing to do since we could all take a look at each other's reviews and then just have so more discussion of this book.
I plan on reading Prince Caspian sometime in December. I am hoping by then I will be done with most of the books on my reading lists. If we all have fun with this I am hoping to do another blog talk about that book with any additional Booklikes members that want to join in.