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Review: The Magician’s Book

December 4, 2008


It’s been years since I’ve read literary criticism, so The Magician’s Book by Laura Miller was a pleasant change of pace for me.  When Laura Miller was in the second grade, her teacher gave her a copy of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to read and she was instantly captivated.  She loved Narnia and read all seven of the books in the series over and over.  Later, when she discovered the Christian themes in the books, she felt betrayed and turned away from them.  After much contemplation and research, she realized that there is much more to the books and came back to them.

This book reads like literary criticism at times, like an autobiography at times and like a biography at other times.  It tells of the author’s discovery of the Narnia books and how they sparked her love of reading.  It details her discovery of the Christian themes in the book and how that discovery turned her away from the books for years.  Miller writes of C. S. Lewis’ life, friendships, beliefs and his possible motivations in writing the book.  In the end, she returns to the Narnia books and she reveals what she learned from them.

This book has lots of research, so the reading was heavy at times.  I found that I couldn’t read it when there were lots of distractions around me.  I still enjoyed it, though.  I do think some knowledge of the Narnia books is necessary to get the most out of it.

Laura Miller was featured on Blog Talk Radio today, (Thursday, December 4) – you can listen to the chat here.  You can enter a contest to win an autographed copy of this book by submitting a photo to this contest on Flickr.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. December 4, 2008 7:08 am

    I don’t know that I have ever felt betrayed by a book or an author. But I guess if you are very vested in the books….
    I would be interested in her take on Mr. Lewis…but I don’t have enough time for any reading that involves thinking at the moment. 😉

  2. December 4, 2008 7:27 am

    As I’ve commented on other blogs, I loved the Narnia books and have read them many times since early elementary school. I’m worried that Miller’s critique will take some of the magic away. I’ve held off reading this one. I feel myself caving though . . .

    Thanks for the reveiw.

  3. December 4, 2008 7:27 am

    Sounds extremely interesting. I’ll try to listen in on the call this afternoon! Thanks for the review!

  4. December 4, 2008 7:41 am

    I haven’t read the Narnia books, but I’d like to share them with my daughter. This books sounds interesting, especially how she felt betrayed by the Christian themes. I guess she really took the books seriously if it affected her that much. Makes me want to read the Narnia books even more. Thanks for the review!

  5. December 4, 2008 8:36 am

    Like Anna, I haven’t read the Narnia series, but have always wanted to and would like my kids to read them.

    I have tried to read a few of this other books (The Screwtape Letters) but never got far with them.

    This sounds like an interesting perspective that really digs deep into the books and Lewis.

  6. December 4, 2008 9:16 am

    I agree – I don’t know how much you’d get out of this book if you didn’t have some interest in Narnia to begin with.

  7. December 4, 2008 9:19 am

    I do like literary crit but you are right – you need a quiet environment to be able to concentrate. Not beach reading!

  8. stacybuckeye permalink
    December 4, 2008 9:57 am

    This sounds interesting. I’ll try and listen to her call today.

  9. December 4, 2008 9:58 am

    I’m hoping to get to this one soon. I’m a big Narnia fan and am curious about how she could be so disenchanted with them, Christian themes or not.

  10. December 4, 2008 10:20 am

    I have this on TBRs for later this month and am really looking forward to it. Thanks for breaking it down and giving more detail.

  11. December 4, 2008 11:41 am

    Thanks for the comment about my new header. Yes, I do own all those Christmas books. I always enter your give-aways!
    But you do know, I’m just joking…it’ okay if I don’t win.
    Oh…and I love C.S. Lewis. And analyzing some of his books thru this book, might be interesting.

  12. alirambles permalink
    December 4, 2008 12:37 pm

    This looks like an interesting book, though I probably haven’t read enough C.S. Lewis to get the full picture. I read two of them with my older son, and that was enough for us at the time.

  13. December 5, 2008 9:24 am

    I haven’t read any literary criticism in a long while. I’m not sure I want to start up again, though.

  14. December 5, 2008 12:59 pm

    I’m so looking forward to reading this one, it is in in my TBR pile but I am having trouble finding time for reading lately (ack!). I’ll have to get to it soon. I love C.S. Lewis. I read the Chronicles as a child and have read most of his other work as an adult. I will be interested to see what this author has to say!

  15. December 5, 2008 6:15 pm

    I’ve got this one sitting on my TBRpile. Sounds good, thanks for the great review.

  16. December 5, 2008 9:15 pm

    My husband is a big fan of the Narnia series and has passed that love on to our family so when I heard about The Magician’s Book I was very interested. It’s good to know that it can be heavy in some places.

  17. December 5, 2008 9:16 pm

    It’s funny… I didn’t notice the religious references as a child either, and when I re-read them as an adult I wondered how I could have missed them! But I didn’t have any negative feelings – that I’d been led on or anything. I’m always interested in revisiting books to see how my perception of them has changed. For instance, I didn’t much like Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy the first time, but loved it the second time!

  18. December 6, 2008 5:01 pm

    I’m really interested in reading this book as well. I’m someone who came to Narnia too late to be able to enjoy it. Normally I easy manage to enjoy children’s books even if I discover them as an adult, but with Narnia the subtext kept me from connecting with the story.

  19. December 8, 2008 1:56 pm

    I do agree that a Narnia reader would get the most out of the book. I too think it was a HEAVY DUTY book. I liked the references to other author’s and the effect or comments that they had C.S. Lewis’ writing.

  20. December 9, 2008 7:07 am

    I didn’t realize until yesterday that this book was part criticism and part memoir–sounds like there were parts that were a little dry or heavy for you as well. I think I’ll continue to wait on this one–I think I was hoping for something different.

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