From Spare Oom to War Drobe
Travels in Narnia with my nine-year-old self
by Katherine Langrish
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 29 Apr 2021 | Archive Date 19 Aug 2021
As a little girl of nine, Katherine Langrish fell deeply in love with The Chronicles of Narnia – she was even inspired to write a book of stories set in that world, complete with poster-paint picture of Aslan on the homemade dust jacket.
Although she loved the Narnia books to bursting, others took their place as she grew up. For years they sat unopened on her shelves. She began to wonder why. Had they simply become too familiar? Had the charm faded? What might they mean to her as an adult?
From Spare Oom to War Drobe is a love letter to that early passion, as well as a reappraisal of The Chronicles of Narnia in the light of maturity and changing tastes. It brilliantly evokes her initial sense of childish wonder, and in a close reading of the novels, including analysis of the context in which other critics have placed them, she gives us a superbly rich, enlightening, and immensely readable guide to the world of these evergreen stories.
Katherine Langrish is a successful author of fantasy for children and young adults (including the Troll Trilogy, Harper Collins), and also a writer of critical essays on fairy tales, folklore, and authors such as Mervyn Peake and Alan Garner.
'Those of us who have visited Narnia through the books so often that we could recite our favourite moments and sentences, might not think that there is anything new waiting for us. In the role of a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide, Katherine Langrish points out moments we missed, connections we hadn't made, and altogether takes us around a place we thought we knew and makes it finer and more interesting than it was before.' Neil Gaiman
'This loving, thoughtful, beautifully-written account of what Narnia means to the writer and to the wider world should be on every reader's bookshelf - right next, of course, to the Chronicles themselves!' Lucy Mangan
'Remembering her childhood fascination with the Chronicles of Narnia, Langrish adroitly deploys her nine year-old self and its reactions to point up differences in a child's and an adult's likely reception of particular moves by Lewis, but the meat of the book is a sustained incident-by-incident re-reading of the seven books - a truly excellent one, intelligent, informed, brilliantly responsive and some of the best appreciative writing about Narnia I have ever come across. It is writerly rather than academic, and I had no difficulty in whipping delightedly through the whole thing. The best book ever about why we love Narnia!' Francis Spufford