May/June Book Reviews

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted book reviews. This is mostly because I’m about halfway through a 1200-pager…more on that book later!

These three books have been my refreshment whenever I was in the mood for something a little lighter. All three of them happen to be very British…I just love British lit. The shelf in the picture above is my “British” shelf and space is starting to become an issue…

It’s a pleasure to talk about all three of these books. I absolutely loved them.

The Horse and His Boy/Prince Caspian
C.S. Lewis

I’ve been slowly working my way through the Chronicles of Narnia. This particular series edition ordered the books chronologically, rather than in the order they were originally published. (So, the first book is The Magician’s Nephew which describes the birth of Narnia, rather than starting with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.) There is some debate about this, and I have to say personally I prefer the original order (not chronological). The books that were published first have a slightly different feel to me than the ones published later (all good – just different), and I’m just more comfortable with the flow that way. But in the end, I don’t think it really matters.

I’ll keep my summary brief as these books are so well known. The Horse and His Boy tells the story of a boy and a girl and two talking horses, on a desperate attempt to escape their unhappy situations and travel to Narnia in order to start a new life. The story is set during the reign of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy.

Prince Caspian is an intense adventure story. This time it is hundreds of years since the golden age of the reign of the four children, and wicked men have taken over Narnia. Prince Caspian has heard rumors of the old days when there were dwarves and talking animals and a mysterious lion named Aslan, but nobody believes in those things anymore. When his usurping uncle produces a potential heir, Caspian’s life is in danger and he escapes on horseback and the adventures begin.

I am in awe of these stories. It’s amazing to me how Lewis can write so simply, and yet bring up such a vivid world. There were many moments that gave me chills. For example, in The Horse and His Boy, there were several times when the travelers were herded together or forward because a fierce lion was chasing and terrifying them. Only later do they learn the lion was Aslan and His guidance took them exactly where they needed to go. It is moments like these, when simple truths or hints of God suddenly emerge from this simple storytelling, that make the Chronicles something I will continue to read all my life. I can’t wait to keep working through the rest of the series.

The Inimitable Jeeves
P.G. Wodehouse

A friend of mine told me about the Jeeves and Wooster series a couple years ago. I looked into it but noticed that there was no real order to the books in the series, and I couldn’t figure out where to begin. I’m a little neurotic about reading things in their correct order (see above), so I moved on.

I was reminded of the series when my mom and sister started watching the tv adaptation, starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. The series was so funny (I had no idea Hugh Laurie could be so goofy – I pretty much only know him as the growly doctor on House) that I decided to look into the books. I fought against my nature and picked up a random novel in the series, as I read online that the order just doesn’t matter (and it doesn’t).

These stories tell the tale of Wooster, an idle and rich gentleman who gets himself into all kinds of upsetting predicaments. Jeeves is constantly prim, polite, and appropriate, and always knows how to get his employer out of scrapes.

This book was hilarious. The best part for me was all the slang and nonsense spoken by the characters, who throw around sentences like “I don’t know, you know, don’t you know.” The world of Wooster, who wrinkles his nose at the idea of working, and spends his time dodging his overbearing Aunt Agatha and visiting different families in the country, is so much fun to enter into. I’m glad this is a series – it’s one to keep tucked away and come back to whenever I need something refreshing.

So there you have it – three simple books that will make your day just a bit brighter. These books are part of two excellent series that I will continue to revisit for a long time to come.

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