What’s it all about?:
When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy took their first steps into the world behind the magic wardrobe, little do they realise what adventures are about to unfold. And as the story of Narnia begins to unfold, so to does a classic tale that has enchanted readers of all ages for over half a century.
What did I think?:
In 2014, Chrissi and I covered the first book in the Narnia series, The Magician’s Nephew (please see my review HERE). We both loved the world of Narnia as children so we thought it only proper that we continue reviewing the series as part of our Kid-Lit challenge. So, in 2015 here comes number two in the order that C.S. Lewis would prefer readers to approach the series, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It was adapted fairly recently into a Hollywood blockbuster film but before that it was adapted for television first in 1967 and again in 1988-90 as part of a successful BBC television series which I vividly recall enjoying. There has even been an animated series in 1979 winning itself an Emmy in the process for Outstanding Animated Program. This was recorded for us by our parents and must have been the most watched video in our household! Finally, it has also been dramatised for BBC Radio 4 and appeared on the stage in the UK, USA, Philippines and Australia.
So if you’ve been living under a rock for a while, here’s what the book is all about. Four siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are evacuated from London during the war and sent to live in a huge house in the countryside owned by a Professor Kirke (Digory Kirke from The Magician’s Nephew actually) and a disgruntled housekeeper Mrs Macready who does not fancy the idea of four children under her feet. Luckily for her, the children choose to keep out of “the Macready’s” way and during a game of Hide and Seek the youngest child Lucy discovers the magical land of Narnia when she hides in a wardrobe. The first person she meets is a charming Faun called Mr Tumnus who tells Lucy that Narnia is under the terrible spell of The White Witch who makes it always winter and never Christmas and turns any animal who crosses her into stone with a flick of her magic wand. Mr Tumnus also tells her that she has paid him to bring any Daughter of Eve (human girl) or Son of Adam (human boy) to her if he should ever encounter them in the forest. There is an ancient prophecy about four children filling the thrones at Cair Paravel castle which would mean the end of the White Witch’s reign so she has a right to be slightly worried. Of course, Tumnus is a good old faun really and helps Lucy to get home quickly before she can be spotted by any of the Witch’s other spies.
Lucy is excited to tell her sister and brothers all about the fantastical world she has been to but even though it feels as if she has been gone hours only a few seconds of time have passed in “our world,” so her siblings believe she is making it up. It doesn’t help matters when Edmund manages to enter Narnia also and when begged by Lucy to admit that the world exists, he maintains that she is lying which distresses her greatly. Of course the four children manage to enter Narnia eventually but it looks like it isn’t going to be all dancing and sunbeams when they discover poor Mr Tumnus has been taken prisoner by the White Witch for daring to interact with her enemies. To top it all off with a big cherry Edmund has gone over to the dark side with promises of Turkish Delight and king-making from the Witch. All four children are now in grave danger and so is Narnia as without Edmund the prophecy cannot be fulfilled. But the silver lining if you want to see it is that the mysterious and all-powerful Aslan is on the move and he just might be able to save everything.
It was absolutely lovely to read this story again as an adult and I enjoyed it just as much as when I was a child. The beautiful writing of C.S. Lewis brings the world of Narnia alive to the reader with all of its power and danger. He writes so assuredly that you can believe a robin can lead the way, a beaver can use a sewing machine, a bull can have the head of a man and vice versa and a lion can come back from the dead. The White Witch was one of the first villains in literature that I both feared and hated and I even felt myself melting again as Edmund was reconciled with his brother and sisters. I know that a lot of people have poked fun at the Christian allegories – for example, Aslan on the Stone Table and The White Witch aka Satan but even though I am more aware of this as an adult it did not affect my pleasure in reading it at all. When all is said and done, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is a fantastic story that continues to thrill children and adults alike without even considering religion as an issue. I mean, talking animals, a great “baddie,” and some hideous creatures… what more do you need? This for me is an unrivalled children’s classic that I hope people will continue to read for many years to come.
For Chrissi’s fab review, please see her blog HERE.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):
“ROAR!” from the animated version of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
The beautiful Narnia book bench which was displayed in London last year (2014)