Friday, January 29, 2010

#5 - "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis

Hello from London! We just landed at Heathrow Airport from Cairo, and now have a five hour layover before boarding our flight to Calgary. I was able to finish The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on the five and a half hour flight, marking what I'm sure will be the fastest I read a book from the list.

I'll admit that I'm surprised to find the book on the list in the first place. Sure its enjoyable, and it makes for a good read, but it's more of a children's book and is quite 'simple' as far as great novels go. Following four English children, sent to the countryside during World War II, the book takes place in the magical world of Narnia, a world who's entrance is found in the back of an old wardrobe, and who's inhabitants are talking animals.

The book is part of seven book series, The Chronicles of Narnia, which details this fictional land, from it's discovery by 'man' to it's eventual rule by the children who find it. For the most part it follows a very standard storyline used in children's books. Good fights Evil, trying to rescue the medieval-style kingdom and its people from their plight. Although not overtly religious, the book is basically a Christian morality tale. The animals of the kingdom refer to the children as 'Sons of Adam' and 'Daughters of Eve,' with the God-like figure of Aslan guiding them to victory over the evil White Witch.

It's quite an easy read because it was written for children. There aren't any 'big words,' there aren't and deep themes explored, and the story is pretty straight forward. It sure doesn't contain any Faulkner-like time shifts. This was in fact the first novel I ever remember reading on my own, when I was nine or ten years old. I also read the entire series again when I was in University, and found it enjoyable then as well. I guess the appeal for adults is the way Lewis crafts the story, exploring some of the inner emotions of the human soul, such as greed, envy, anger and bravery. The simple story line makes it's easy to get lost in the land of Narnia while reading this book, and allows anybody to feel like a kid again. Unlike many books, there's no need to doubt whether everything will work out for the land of Narnia.

Whether or not I would include this on my own list of the 100 best novels is uncertain, but it does make for an entertaining read, and I'm sure I'll end up reading it again sometime in the future, to capture the magic of being a kid again.

I'm going to start my next book on my flight to Calgary, The Great Gatsby. Yes, that will be two books in a row that I'd previously read, but I don't have anything else with me, and I don't want to go through a nine hour flight without anything to read.

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