After finishing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe I decided to give the rest of the series a try—plus I found a cheap set of the other Narnia books at Salvation Army. The Magician’s Nephew is Lewis’s prequel, with a Genesis-type story that tells how Narnia came to be, with more than a few Biblical allusions. Though the first half is genuinely solid children’s lit (magic rings, a lost world, childhood observations, etc.), the creation scenes go on for far too long. Still, it’s worth reading for the London sections and the introduction of the White Witch.
Another children’s classic I never actually read as a kid, the original Peter Pan holds up solidly in its story, characters, and playful writing style, but not in its cringeworthy turn-of-the-century descriptions of Native Americans. Barrie also inserts some distinct undertones for careful readers, such as the rivalry between Wendy and Tinkerbell for the clueless pre-pubescent Peter, the Darling parents’ obsession with doing everything society expects of them, and Hook’s being a former prep school kid, along with an epilogue (left out of the Disney version) that explores what it really means to outgrow the carefree adventures of youth.
In 1935 Britain, a thirteen-year-old girl’s overactive imagination and accidental brush with the c-word lead her to send an innocent man to prison for a sex crime. While the first half covers the misunderstanding, the second deals with the grim early days of World War II, both on the French front and in the hospitals. Everything about this book feels like it shouldn’t work (historical fiction, child narrator, loaded politics) but it does, which speaks to McEwan’s skill as a storyteller. Though the prose is often slow, there are enough hard-hitting dramatic moments to make this an intense read.
Where I Got It
From a friend who was getting rid of books in the summer of 2015. I have mixed feelings about movie cover tie-ins, but this one pulls it off quite well.