I bought this series in paperback as an adult, because for some reason I had not read the books as a child. It’s a nice little boxed set, and I’m getting ready to pass it on to my niece, who has just started reading what the kids call “chapter books.” We just used to call them books, but I’m old. Anyway, the first book in the boxed set was “The Magician’s Nephew,” but this was actually the first book written and published (although it is second chronologically in Narnia time).
Between the books and the movies, you all know the story: the kids are evacuated to the countryside during the Blitz, and end up staying with old, odd Professor Kirke. That’s Digory Kirke, for those of you who have already read the prequel. Little Lucy Pevensie finds a wardrobe in a disused room, and finds a whole other world inside (outside?) it. She meets a lovely faun, Tumnus, who tries to betray her, but then can’t. Her brother Edmund makes his way to Narnia as well, and meets the queen (so she says), who tantalizes him with sweets, and promises of glory. Then all four kids end up there, they discover that Mr. Tumnus has been taken, they meet beavers, Edmund betrays them to the White Witch, they go on the lam, meet Santa Claus, and the long winter begins to end. Oh, and there’s a very big lion who might be Jesus.
Here’s what I love about this story. I adore the Pevensies, they’re just so very British. Peter is all stiff-upper-lip-man-of-the-house, Susan is such a mother hen, Lucy is adorable, and Edmund is a total prick until he finds out that prickiness isn’t all that great, no matter how much Turkish Delight there is (I’ve never had it, but I looked it up and it sounds kind of icky). I love all the talking animals, especially the saucy Mrs. Beaver. I love how she packs food for everyone and tries to bring her sewing machine before the wolves descend (she just couldn’t bear their nasty paws all over her stuff – and I also love that Santa got her a new one after the wolves trashed their place).
Ok, so I’m not all that enamored of the Christian mythology aspect, but Lewis doesn’t totally beat us to death with it (although he does get in a few good smacks). I do enjoy these books, they’re yet another way to turn off the churning brain at the end of the day (which is all too necessary). I’ll be reading these books for the rest of my life. I’m excited to introduce my niece to them, and can’t wait until my boy is old enough to read them.