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Drew Astolfi

Thank you very much for writing this...its the most fun I ever had reading lit criticism. I am almost embarrassed by how you were able to articulate things I felt and clumsily thought about these books!

Seriously thanks!

I think Patricia McKillip (Riddle Master and Forgotten Beasts of Eld and Joy Chant (Red Moon and Black Mountain) might fit into your recommendations too. They fit into that "books about magic" genre, at least they did for me when I was young.

Alan Gilliland

Looking through the range of books and authors here, I would suggest anyone, especially in the US, who has not encountered Alan Garner’s novels should make haste to do so. A trilogy: The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Moon of Gomrath and, 50 years later, Boneland.
Also The Owl Service, Elidor, and Red Shift. A great writer read by children and adults both.
Then certainly find out the stories of George MacDonald, including too his adult tales.

Tim Poston

The article and the book prompted me to re-read the whole Narnia sequence, which I originally read as they came out, starting about eight years old. I found them immensely powerful then, and was pleased how well they still work for me, in my sixties. I am a sceptic since age 12, and allergic to Lewis's parochial Christianity in particular -- he was quite unable to separate universal morality from the mores of the class he (and I) grew up in. I have lived outside England since 1972, living among many kinds of people with many beliefs, and his class/race/country narrowness gives me the creeps: it bothers me, just as it does Laura Miller, but the sense of widening my world in other directions is still there, and makes a joyful read. The film kept only the parts that make me shudder.

I can't agree with the idea of cruelty -- as distinct from prejudice -- in the liberation/destruction of Gwendolen's school. True, she is contrasted to the "dumpy, prim little girls with fat legs", but in this she just resembles the ballet dancers and so on of girls' magazines of the time. (I got Eagle, my sister got Girl.) It is as easy to dream yourself slender-legged as that you are a princess, and a change in status is more likely: the narrative point is to allow the dream, not to condemn the dreamer. (Whether skinny princesses are a Good dream is quite another question.)

What surprised me most about the book, as it engaged with Lewis and fantasy, was the complete absence of the most powerful, adult fantasy he wrote. There is no Christianity in Till We Have Faces; the gods are multiple, and deadly dangerous; the narrator is a woman whose strength (including the sword, but her brain and political/economic sense is more important) exceeds any male in sight. Her face is ugly, to herself and others, and she handles that with honesty and courage. (When science fiction later started to admit women as scientists instead of just trophies and secretaries, they still looked like pin-ups, and still do. Asimov's roboticist Susan Calvin is the only fictional scientist I can think of whose brains don't come with 'but it's OK, she's still a woman because she's beautiful'.) Her pre-Homeric society is far more convincing than the cosy monarchy of Narnia.

With the Chronicles, I can still suspend my scepticism and enjoy the ride, sledding over the flaws. Till We Have Faces still seems flawless, and leaves me in awe. I wish Laura Miller had made it part of her context for discussing Lewis and the Chronicles.

Margaret Keeping

Just to back up my claim that 'really' Narnia is as much England as Ireland, here is a critic's comment on Edward Thomas's best known, quintessentially English, poem, Adlestrop:

'Of course there is no-one on the platform, the train wasn’t supposed to stop here remember.
I love this poem because it takes me back to an idealised England I look back to, perhaps also forward to Heaven, where (according to the Last Battle, C S Lewis) all that is truly good about England is real.'

Margaret Keeping

Laura, it may surprise you to find a comment from Oxford, UK- I live very near to the CS Lewis former home, and came upon your site incidentally.
Reading others'comments about the Christian aspect of the novels I was struck by the reactions, almost fear and trembling in some cases. I think religion is so much less strident in the UK that we agnostics are much less troubled by it.
During a teenage religious phase I read 'Screwtape letters' and probably benefitted from it as from any 'how to live a good life' work.
Your interest in the English countryside -I think there's a very strong dose of England in there - makes me wonder if you have read Robert MacFarlane's 'The Old Ways'- a marvellous blend of walking, history, and literature. It's been important to me in writing my biographical fiction on Edward Thomas and Robert Frost, 'A Conscious Englishman.'
If I hear any CS Lewis related news from this side of the pond I'll let you know. Our writers'group meets regularly in the 'Lamb and Flag', St.Giles, in Oxford, the Inklings' alternative to the 'Eagle and Child' when it got too crowded- and it certainly is now!
All best wishes,


Scott Finnell

Laura, I too was enthralled with the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I was also, very upset when I grew up to find they were Christian in nature. I too am not a Christian, and when the movies came out, there was a huge fuss from the Christian Right over the books being Christian and how great that was. I have never been able to see those books the same way as an adult, but the magic is still there for me if I ignore the underlining Christian theme. I wrote my essay in college about C.S. Lewis and those books, and I got an A. I researched his life, and I tried to explain away the Christian Right by saying they are our books too, and I don't see it as Christian, but as good v evil. I live in the South now, and the Christians are always proclaiming something as theirs. I fought to keep the books as something that was mine, and only mine. When I was a kid, I was the only one that knew about this magical land. Of course, so did many others, but I didn't know that. I grew up in S. California, and I was in an abusive home. These stories were my only path to another place that was all mine and beautiful. Now I have my own ideas, and the books are no longer meaningful, but the magic is still there if I look back at myself as an abused little kid who saw them with naive eyes that had no moral, ethical, or ideological judgements.

Adam Watkins

Laura, I just wanted to say that your article touched me. I can totally relate. The Chronicles of Narnia were introduced to me by my 2nd grade teacher, and I read them countless times growing up hoping to find a way to Narnia in every closet and with every prayer. I turned away from religion to secular rationalism, but the magic those stories created for me are always with me. I would have loved to have had lunch with the man. He was such a good writer. Your writing about this was excellent as well. I just had my jaw dropping the more I read about what you wrote, because by and large your experience was almost identically mine. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Robert Gray

I read The Well at the Worlds End in 1976 or so and it both broke my heart and made it whole again. I read it again recently and the same thing happened. I don't see it as "...laborious, exhaustive accounts " at all and I must say that referring to William Morris as a "...novelist of sorts", seems awfully harsh. To describe Ralph's romantic life as "falling in and out of love" is also pretty tough, particularly given the strength of the female characters in the book and the fact that Ralph never falls out of love with any of them. I think I might be an average fan of The Lord of the Rings and I adore this book.

Jeff Lozares

Hi Laura,
After bumping into your website, now it got me interested to watch Narnia again. I wish I could also travel to England to see the places that inspired Narnia. In the movie, it looks like paradise and it makes me feel younger.

Amanda Craig

Hello Laura,

I've followed your jounralism on Salon from time to time, always impressed by it especially as we seem to share many tastes in children's literature. Stupidly, never looked at your website before and now I see why. I've just ordered your book on CS Lewis, and share so many of your thoughts about him it was uncanny...I take it you've also read Lev Grossman's novels? There are a few slightly left-field English authors you might also enjoy - I've picked up a couple of American ones from your list which look fun. One obvious one is Alan Garner (Weirdstone of Brisingamen/Moon of Gomrath), another is Nicholas Stuart Gray (Grimbold's Other World)and a third, rather dated but contemporaneous with The Hobbit is Bombadil. Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading your book enormously. I met Pauline Baynes once...


This is the first time I've seen your web-site, and I've just read your recommendations for children's reading, and some of the outakes.
How lovely to see so many of the books I devoured as a child listed here! I'm pretty sure I read the Princess/Curdie books, Andrew Lang, and Nesbit before I discovered Narnia, and they all had enormous influence.
I, too, scoured the library shelves for more of that genre; I'm 56, so some of your recommendations weren't around when I was a child. After I turned 12 or so I read Lewis' & LeGuin's adult sciience-fiction, which led me on, and on.
My parents had "Screwtape" on their shelves, so I read that(and got a lot more out of it when I re-read it as an adult).
Pullman's books were rivetting(maybe it helped that I started with the 2nd in the trilogy?), and the later Harry Potter books. So I'll be reading some of the other ones on your list.
I'm still quite a voracious reader, but now my top 10 author list would include Oliver Sacks, Iris Murdoch, Haruki Murakami, Jane Roberts. And: "Little, Big" will always be up there in the top 5 books, and I am still hunting for the Charles William's novels not read yet.
Thank-you so much for sharing your own love of this literature, and especially for your insights into Lewis. "The Magician's Book" is on my must-read list!


Thank you very much for your insightful commentary on the Haunting of Hill House. It has left me with much fodder for thought!

Derek Murphy

I found you after first reading the clever article on Proust, which I now intend to read. The Magician's Book looks excellent and is downloading to my Kindle. I'm working on C.S. Lewis' responses to Paradise Lost and excited about the research. Thanks!

Beverly Rodriguez

Linked here from an article on Salon.com about the Aleppo Codex. Not only am I inspired to read The Magicians Book but as a former child who also got lost in books and was ever searching for my own parallel universe where I could escape, thought I'd share two of my faves that I never think get enough recognition: "The Blue Sword" and "The Hero & the Crown". Thanks!

Angus Brownfield

This is a gratuitous reaction to dipping into the excerpt of The Magician’s Book, led by a link from your column, “Pulitzers snub fiction.”
Your childhood reaction to books was the way I reacted to movies at that age. The line between reality and fancy was so blurry that walking out of a matinee into bright sunshine didn’t hurt my eyes so much as my soul. I’d been watching John Wayne’s back as he faced down the Plummers in Stagecoach. I had held Greer Garson in my arms and comforted her Mrs. Miniver. I was Grumpy repeating to myself with a glower, “There’s dirty work to be done around here,” when returning home to find the house cleaned by Snow White.
The first book I remember affecting me the way you were by Lewis’s books came much later in life. I don’t count almost drowning in the bathtub reading Mann’s Dr. Faustus, blubbering as I slipped into the water, holding up the book so it wouldn’t drown with me. Because I’d been warned: make sure someone’s around when you read it (not telling me that the tear-prompting scene happens four hundred pages in).
No, it was Carlos Castaneda’s Journey to Ixtlan. I’d read the first two don Juan books and by the time I read the third I had to have been in my mid-thirties. If, as Bill Gorton said in The Sun Also Rises, that is a dangerous age to first read Mencken, it was a dangerous age to read Castaneda. You could not have convinced me that don Juan wasn’t as real as the Sonoran Desert, where I was ready to go to look for him. He had to be. I wanted to be his apprentice. I wanted to learn to dream, to see, not just look. I wanted wisdom. The fantasy of being a sorcer’s apprentice lived in me for many years. I even started to codify the sayings of don Juan.
I don’t know how I’d feel if I went back and reread the first four don Juan books (the rest I catalog as not-so-good fiction). I know that movies that grabbed me on first viewing often leave me puzzled about my reaction on reviewing. I watched Phaedra again last night, on the small screen, and was unmoved by scenes that moved me when it was first released: Melina Mercouri throwing the expensive ring into the Thames made me gasp the first time; my mind slowed the scene to the speed of a tease. Last night it was over in a flash and it didn’t evoke anything like a gasp.
I shall read your book. Maybe it will evoke memories of the magic of reading when I was young and suggestible.

Leo Reilly

I saw your article in Salon today about Thomas Kinkade. I met him twice, without knowing who he was, in Carrie Nation's bar in Los Gatos, where we both lived.

Yeah, his "art" wasn't art--Kinkade was the Lawrence Welk of painters. But is that really so bad? I once had a grunt job working for a guy named Brian Day (briandayartist.com) who paints horribly saccarine Christmas Cards doing a Kinkade take on the "Old West" (a noble Indian in a canoe with his "friend" a grizzly bear---you get the picture.) His stuff is just as bad as Kinkade's, except he doesn't have Kinkade's talent! And yes, he sells them for money. You can find his "art" on the internet.

What I learned from Day was that you can make a living selling kitsche, and people who like that stuff will buy it. They will even "invest" in it.

But Day was (actually is) a nice guy, who was as simplistic as his audience, but he really enjoyed painting--he believed in it. Now that I think about it, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that he owns a "Kinkade" or two himself.

These guys aren't arms traders, or starting wars, or suing people or hollering at tea party gatherings. They enjoy painting and found a peaceful, harmless way to do it and survive. Worse things have happened.

And, before we call this "art" fascist, remember that there is kitsche on the left-- look at that guy who paints whales on buildings across the country to sell his equally repulsive "art", all sold at hideous prices. I will give five bucks to everyone who does that rather than tear people, or things, or the environment, down. Think Sarah Palin.

For these guys, painting is a means to make money, but that doesn't make the effort insincere--or bad.

Just awful to look at, that's all.


Hi Laura,

My mother told me about this book and I'm really glad she did. I loved the Narnia books as a kid but was a bit let down by the movies.

This was such a good read. Kudos and congrats on all these great reviews!

- Cindy

Laura G.

Oh. my. God. I LOVED "Carbonel, the King of Cats" when i read it as a child and have looked for it in bookstores and libraries now and again and never see it. I'm sure it's likely to be on Amazon though.

Anyway thank you for reminding me of this book and the validating knowledge that someone else read it and loved it too.



Dear Laura,
I really enjoyed reading your essay - the excerpt from 'The Magician's Book'. I read the Chronicles over and over again as a child, and then much later as a young adult and then as a mother of young children. I also experienced a similar progression from enchantment to disillusionment to rediscovery, and finally a sort of fond acceptance or understanding. Thank you for your wonderful insights and clarity of expression.

Evi Landay

My brother has just sent me the link to your essay, which was a pleasure to read. I too loved all the Narnia books as a child. My absent father sent me a copy of Prince Caspian first, (how typical that was!) and it was so wonderful to track down all the other books.

My dawning awareness of their inbuilt racism and christian doctrine was something which I somehow was able to handle, although I did have a spell as a born-again christian in my teens, which with hindsight I could well have done without.

It is the escapism of fantasy which I've always loved; the promise that, underneath the drab, ordinary world hides something magical. As I grow ever older, this speaks to me of my own spiritual growth (if that's the right name for it), in which I find inklings of this magic whenever I become truly aware of that which is most ordinary.

Did you ever come across the novels of Alan Garner? I loved them! Much darker than Narnia, they are set in England (and later, Wales) and draw on old mythologies. In these, the children are not always safe, not even when they get home. The best was the first - The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. Its sequel was weaker, but both Elidor and The Owl Service are extraordinary.

After these books, my aforementioned brother introduced me to the world of Gormenghast, by Mervyn Peake - not strictly speaking children's novels. But all of which left me with wonderful imagery and food for dreams which has lasted a lifetime.

For contemporary children's fantasy, after Harry Potter, I am almost ashamed to admit that I have fallen headlong into the novels of Stephenie Myers. More than anything I am uplifted by stories of amazing magical creatures, and tales of transcendant love. Is that the nearest I can get to being with angels?

One of the best things about her four Twilight novels is that they come to a highly satisfactory conclusion without the usual battle scenes (which I always dislike). Beautifully done. And check out her separate novel, 'The Host'. It is extraordinarily good!

Alan Kellogg

Can't find this observation again, but I read somewhere that rather than using Christian imagery C.S. Lewis' Narnia books used astrological imagery. Thought you'd find this interesting.

--- Thanks for writing, Alan. I think the book you're thinking of is "Planet Narnia" by Michael Ward, which holds that an elaborate scheme of astrological references is behind the Chronicles. Everything I've read about Lewis and the way he worked makes me very much doubt that there's anything to it, but I've been on a radio show with Ward and found him otherwise informed and articulate, so some readers may find the book worth checking out -- LM

Mark McKenna

I first read "The Chronicles of Narnia" as a young hippy. Now I'm an old hippy with short hair and I still love the books.

The Christian message came through, of course, but never loud and clear. It was always subject to the wonderful characters, the drolleries, the passionate embrace of universal principles (friendship, courage) -- so I never experienced the sense of betrayal you talked about in your essay.

(Whoops! Okay, maybe once. It was when a character (Susan, was it?) was not allowed back into Naria at the very end because she started "wearing make-up" That was ignoble.)

In general, I suppose a novel having a "message" (in the Humphrey Bogart sense) could be seen as a bad thing. But when the characters and plot are suffused with such richness and joy I find it doesn't bother me at all. The Narnia tales made me suspend my belief in my own opinions.

Laura Miller

I don't have CFS, Judy. Not sure where you may have read this, but you probably have me confused with someone else, perhaps the author Lauren Hillenbrand?

Judy Sterling

Laura, I read that you have chronic fatigue. Is this true and if dso are you going to right a book about it. Can you tell me whwere I read this so I can read it again. It haeped me alot. I don't know why I just felt betterabout being one of the ones in bed because I don't look sick.Thank you for your input. Judy

Margaret C. Murray

Dear Laura,
I always read your Salon.com reviews because they're great and resonate so much with my own thinking as a novelist. Now I am enchanted by the Magician's Book excerpt. I too was caught repeatedly in school with a book on my lap...I too was a Catholic..and so forth. What I especially love is your discerning love for the power and joy in the act of reading good books. And your provocative topics--such as children and books. Thank you for taking me with you into your wonderland!

susan doherty

Dear Laura, have you been to New York and seen the play
Freud's Last Session?? Set in 1939, this play is a meeting between Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis debating the existence of God. I have not been that mesmerized in a long while.
My first "love" was Narnia...funny how you say it shapes a person, their mind. I think you are right.
Keep posting!!!

Joan McGrath

Thank you, Laura, for expressing my own dismay and disappointment upon learning of the subtext of Narnia. I am a Christian, and I only first read Narnia as an adult with my child when recommended by an elementary school teacher. I felt it had been a major deceit, robbing both my child and I of a lovely gift. Your book has helped heal that rift for me, and I hope it will do the same as I gift my now 31 year old daughter with a copy. This deceit was one of the reasons she came be believe Christianity was a path she could not continue. Your writing has a universal beauty to it as well as an intellectual challenge.

Russell Bittner


"The relationship between book and reader is intimate, at best a kind of love affair, and first loves are famously tenacious."

How true. How very, very true.

I first read "Of Human Bondage," by Somerset Maugham, when I was 14. Maugham is generally considered to be a "middle-brow" writer. I don't care. That book had an ENORMOUS impact me at the time; I've re-read it twice since.

Thank you, Laura, for reminding all of us readers (and even writers) that it's quite all right to hold on, however tenaciously, to our "first love."


Barbara Moore

I keep thinking about your book, am now rereading the narnia books and wondering first of all whether the off-putting-to-me-and-some-others treatment of christian themes isn't partly a subset of general clumsiness and sentimentality in Lewis' treatment in these books of moral-psychological themes, and second, has ANYBODY in the last 100 years written a subtle or convincing fiction incorporating christian themes (as contrasted with, say, poetry)? And why would THAT be?

Barbara Moore

I love the magician's book which I just finished ad am now pursuing some of the intriguing leads on this website. Among the photos is one of a strange woods that reminds me of the enchanted place at the top of the forest in House at Pooh Corner. Every little scrap of land in Britain seems to glitter with hidden meanings. So different from here. Barbara Moore

Amy C

Loved the book, Laura! My daughters live in a Narnia of sorts. Our house has "open plan" bedrooms, and since it's a rental the best I could do to give them privacy was to buy an old wardrobe, knock out the back, and position it over the entrance to their room.

Tobin Crenshaw

Have had quite a few conversations about Lewis and Narnia over the past two years and look forward to your book!

A. Nuran

I had a much different experience reading Narnia. I was Jewish, and even as a child I was very well aware what conservative evangelical Christianity meant to outsiders. And the Protestant screed was apparent even to this seven year old.

I can read him now and enjoy the books for what they are. But it's disingenuous to talk about them as "literary phenomena". You have to acknowledge the frankly sub-par writing and absolutely intentional proselytizing.

My wife, who is Afro-Asian and grew up in country with a large Muslim population, cannot bear to pick up "The Horse and His Boy". The heavy-handed racism and religious bigotry were certainly not unusual for Lewis' time and place. They are still execrable. And there is no reason to subject innocent children to them.


I read this book over a year ago & still consider it somewhat often. Your insight holding the dark-age mindset as equal to, if not better than that of the renaissance is uncommon and (ironically, perhaps) reasonable.


I also longed to “tesser” to Narnia (I had previously read a “Wrinkle in Time") and, although I had no religious affiliation as a child, I kneeled down on my bedroom’s white, shag carpet, put my hands together and prayed to go there.

The Narnia books saved my life in certain ways. Unbeknownst to me, I had multiple personality disorder as a child, and suffered a complete breakdown as a teen. However, Aslan’s benevolent presence, and courage to sacrifice his life helped shape an inner, unconscious presence that actually helped pull me out of psychological turmoil and set me on a positive path. Lacking parental anything, I internalized Aslan as a “good” parent and that internal presence literally had an effect on my being. So I am forever grateful to Narnia.

Venger Satanis

Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your essay on Lovecraft and his work, "Master of Disgust".

Ia Ia Cthulhu fhtagn,

Venger As'Nas Satanis
High Priest
Cult of Cthulhu

Imee Baronda

Fantasy books are my kids favorite, I will grab... our bonding moments will be more fun :). Thanks for the post.

From the Philippines,
ChooseYourOwnAdventureBooks.org for Kids, Adults and Teachers

Grace Remmington

Thank you for your fantastic book. I found it squirreled away in the Blackwells in Oxford and was swept into the book. I started reading Narnia again as an adult (having only read a couple as a child.)
Your book is exceptionally engaging and made me remember the enjoyment I still get from reading 'fairy tales', myths and legends.
I am studying literature at university and found your book very enriching. I think that it is important for anyone: children or adults to remember that magic is only pages away.
So I just wanted to say a massive thank you for writing a book that I came across by complete chance whilst combing the shelves one sunny afternoon in Oxford.

Ruth Berman

This is really a comment on Laura Miller's article on the uses of bad writing on Salon, so maybe not something to post here, but I did want to make the comment -- and comments there require setting up a password and being registered as a commenter, something I generally can't manage to do (I think the U of Minn. puts some blocks on its accounts for this sort of thing, or maybe it's just my general unsavviness in internet stuff).

Anyhow -- I enjoyed the article, but was sorry to see its description of Edward Bulwer Lytton as "a crummy Victorian novelist." No, in spite of the Bulwer Lytton contest for bad writing, he was quite a good writer. It's not really his fault that Charles Schultz thought "It was a dark and stormy night" was somewhat over the top. It is -- but not much. He wasn't a first-rank writer (someone you'd assign the students to read in a class on Victorian literature, say), but he was a pretty good second-ranker (someone you'd include on a list of writers the students might like to write papers on). His novel, "The Last Days of Pompeii" is hokum, but glorious hokum. His science fiction novel "The Coming Race" is a fascinating thought-piece. His horror-story, "the Haunted and the Haunters," is impressive. (And I haven't actually read the novel -- "Edward Clifford"? -- that's the source of the dark&stormynight line, so don't have an opinion on it.) But do give him a try before you lump him in into the category of "bad writers."

Ruth Berman
(a Victorian scholar and fantasy fan)

Carolyn Holmes

I just finished your wonderful book, and feel like I have a friend out there who, like us, tried to get in to Narnia. We also tried really hard to find some Edward Eager magic, so I really appreciated you mentioning him as well. Thank you for reopening the wardrobe door with your erudite observations and honest reassessment. (p.s. I have ALWAYS wondered about that underwater shepherdess in Dawn Treader!)


Dear Laura,

I missed your book, probably because like you, "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" was my first love, first book I loved and still do. I did not see the films either because Narnia has always been as real for me as real live, as it is called.

Now I'm in Paris where I found your book and will read it on the plane back to New York. I cannot comment on your work but I can tell you that as I pack I'm listening to the only Narnia book I found as a kid. My parents knew I was obsessed with Narnia but never did they think to tell me there were others in the series. As a result I read re-read and re-read again this favorite first of the Narnia series. I was to say that I carry Narnia within me, still dream about it, and find it a place that is more real for me than many other places. I was a Jewish kid and it doesn't bother me at all that this book is seen as a Christian parable because for me most of all it is a story of a hidden world that somehow became mine and still is that. Best to you, Wendy


I've just started your book and already it's pushing all the buttons I had forgotten needed pushing. Thank you. Though I'd suggest that Lucy's encounter with the Magician's Book is simpler than any notion of 'mythos' or 'lost childhood'. For me it was just ... waking up from a beautiful dream and watching all elements begin to fade away as you try to remember it, leaving only the memory of the beautiful dream.

Jan Wall

I have to tell you what a pleasure it was to read your book over the holidays. My daughter (who's nearly 50) gave it to me for Christmas. I've been an English instructor at a community college in Oakland, CA, for the past 45 years, and I read the Narnia books to my kids when they were children. The reviewer who said you returned me to an early love was not too strong. Thanks. I could hardly put your book down after I started it.


My favorite is the horse, Bree, from The Horse and His Boy. While I love all the books, that is my absolute favorite — funny, since it is the only stand-alone book and a little different from the others in that series.

Christopher White

I came across your book in the recent New Yorker and bought it as a Christmas gift to myself. As one who experienced a conversion similar to Lewis--that is, as a great Interruption-- he was and is an important voice for me. With that in mind, I send my gratitude for keeping the man and his relations human. Perhaps the most instructive point of your book was the discovery that he wrote, and wrote with mirth, during difficult, difficult personal times. That adds a real shine to the man and The Chronicles for me. More than anything I could praise in your book, however, it stirred in me a need to read The Chronicles again. Good work.

John Adcox

A review for you:


Hope it helps. Thanks for a terrific read.


janette currie [@BookRambler]

Hi Laura
Just saying hi - I stumbled across your site during an internet ramble. Like the site and the way you interweave personal with bookishness - I started a blog to refresh my writing and tho' I can ramble on about books and writing, I've yet to plunge into the personal. I've written so long in the 3rd person I find it nigh on impossible. Your site shows how it can work - thanks.

Richard Johnson

Great note about building a cabin of hours--a necessary and murderously difficult task.

It's also exciting to hear about a new book project. Can you share any details?


I will always remember my first book-Blackie , Whitey & Brownie-about 3 horses.
I love Narnia as well!

John Caruso

The very best of the books I loved as a child, and which inspired me to write books too--these still hold up today when I read them. A few years back, I picked up Tuck Everlasting again, and was reduced to shivers and tears before I'd even finished the prologue.

The analogy with first love is just right. It doesn't even matter if there was great value in the books we first lost our hearts to--what mattered was that somehow we read, our eyes were opened to something, a wonder we had never suspected before in the world, and we were forever changed.

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The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia




In 2006, I traveled to England and Ireland in search of the places that inspired Narnia. I began in Oxford, where C.S. Lewis wrote the Chronicles, and went on to Northern Ireland, where he grew up. Lewis always maintained that the Counties Down and Antrim were the models for Narnia, especially the area around the Mourne Mountains near the Lough of Carlingford. Others (such as his illustrator, Pauline Baynes), seem to see it as more English. Here are some of the photographs I took during my trip.