Sunday, January 3, 2010

review: the magician's book by laura miller

Laura Miller’s examination of C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia comes in three parts. The first reads more as a memoir; it is Miller’s experiences with the books and how she came to read them. The next two sections delve more into critical analysis, biographical information on Lewis and some of his influences, and background on the genres Miller believes the Chronicles fall into.

While many other critics focus on the religious themes of the books and the role Christianity played in Lewis’s own life, Miller doesn’t spend much time on the subject, preferring “to illuminate [Narnia’s] other, unsung dimensions, especially the deep roots of the Chronicles in the universal experiences of childhood and in English literature.” I enjoyed Miller’s thoughts on her reading of the Narnia books and appreciated some of the biographical information on Lewis, but by the Northern Lights chapter I was starting to feel bogged down by the background information. I would’ve preferred to read more about Miller’s thoughts on some of the more controversial elements of the books than to have had to wade through some of the parts on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, who Lewis was friends with.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Little, Brown and Company.

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