I have vivid memories of my husband lying on the floor next to our youngest son, who was maybe 5 or 6 years old at the time, reading to him. Together they were enjoying The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis, experiencing Narnia with all its Magic. I was in and out of the room catching bits and pieces of the story as my husband read. Several times I stopped to listen, as I was being drawn into the story too, but mostly I stopped to watch our son’s reactions as my husband read. He was spellbound.
Most, if not all, of my children have read the entire Narnia series, and so has my husband. But, I confess that I had not read a single volume. So when I saw that one of the categories in the Back to the Classics Reading Challenge was a classic set in a place you’d like to visit I thought maybe it was time for me to pay a visit to Narnia.
I asked my daughters and my husband, and all agreed that I should start with The Magician’s Nephew, which is after all, the beginning of the story.
Digory comes to London with his mother to live with his Uncle Andrew and his Aunt Letty (they are brother and sister) because his mother is gravely ill and needs care. His father is away in India. Living with them is just awful for poor Digory. He misses the country and considers London to be a “beastly Hole.” And he doesn’t much care for his Uncle Andrew either who has “such awful eyes.”
One day Digory is crying in the garden when he meets Polly, the next door neighbor. They become acquainted and eventually go on a little exploring expedition, an indoor exploring expedition because this particular summer is just so cold and rainy.
Polly had discovered a tunnel in the attic of the rowhouse where she lives long before she ever met Digory. This tunnel allows one to actually move from house to house across the row of houses. They intended to go from Polly’s house, through Digory’s house, and on to the vacant house next door to do some exploring there but they never get that far. Instead they end up in the secret room belonging to Uncle Andrew, the Magician.
In the secret room they find magic rings, which when you touch them, you are whisked off to a different world. They discover this by surprise when Polly touches one and she instantly vanishes. Digory follows her and they find themselves in another world altogether.
The children, and eventually Uncle Andrew, travel to several magical lands and along the way they meet the beautiful Queen Jadis, who they soon discover is an evil witch.
But the most wonderful being they meet is Aslan, the Lion. They are there to witness Him sing Narnia into existence…
In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard.
Narnia is a place like no other, a land of mythical beasts, talking animals, and Magic.
The Chronicles of Narnia, a seven volume fantasy series for children, was published between 1950-1956. He did not write the series in chronological order. The Magician’s Nephew was the last to be published but it is actually the book that begins the story. The series have sold over 100 million copies.
There is so much to this book and I don’t want to give any more away. If you do decide to visit Narnia, like I did, consider taking a child along by reading it out loud together.
It will be magical for both of you!