The Enchanted Castle (Puffin Classics) Paperback – 1 Apr 1986
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About the Author
Edith Nesbit (married name Edith Bland; 15 August 1858 – 4 May 1924) was an English author and poet; she published her books for children under the name of E. Nesbit. She wrote or collaborated on more than 60 books of children's literature. Her works include, novels, collections of short stories, and picture books. She created an innovative body of work that combined realistic, contemporary children in real-world settings with magical objects – what would now be classed as contemporary fantasy – and adventures and sometimes travel to fantastic worlds. According to her biographer, Julia Briggs, Nesbit was "the first modern writer for children." Nesbit "helped to reverse the great tradition of children's literature inaugurated by Lewis Carroll, George MacDonald and Kenneth Grahame, in turning away from their secondary worlds to the tough truths to be won from encounters with things-as-they-are, previously the province of adult novels." Briggs also credits Nesbit with having invented the children's adventure story. Nesbit also wrote for adults, including eleven novels, short stories and four collections of horror stories.
Top customer reviews
When siblings, Gerald, James and Kathleen can't go home form their respective boarding schools in the holidays, due to illness at home, it is decided that they will stay at Kathleen's school, and be looked over by a servant and the French Mistress. Thus the adventures of this intrepid trio soon begin. Deciding to take a picnic they stumble across what they decide is an enchanted castle, and meet the princess of the said castle, or Mabel as it becomes apparent after some time. With Mabel claiming that a ring is magic, much to everyone's surprise it does appear to be so, and thus their adventures get under way, but also the grounds of the building also seem to be enchanted.
Children will love this, when they are younger to have it read to, as they are older, to read themselves, and then again as adults, and then starting the whole process off again if they have children. This tale is simply timeless and can appeal to all ages, as when you are older it reminds you of your own imagination as a child. Full of magic, and some romance, there isn't really anything that you can find wrong with it.
Naturally, mother and father bought me the tv-tie-in novel which was one of the first novels I read, just a few years later. That particular copy, like the ugly-wugglies, had taken on a life of its own and secreted itself somewhere in the bowels of my parents' house and remains elusive (or, like a number of my Star Wars figures was probably given to the church jumble sale behind my back!).
Alas, I turned to Amazon to buy my 2 year old daughter a copy to read to her at bedtime. Each night for a fortnight we read a chapter (or half of the more substantial ones) and from the off she herself was enchanted. The idea of magic rings, secret passages and statues coming to life thrilled her and delighted me thirty odd years on. I had to spend some time explaining to her, being only two, what exactly invisibility is (now she pretends to be invisible in an effort to avoid bed!) and she has remarked that the odd shop mannequin resembles an ugly-wuggly. The stories have had an effect and stimulated her imagination.
The book itself is beautifully written and although the 1907 turn of phrase is not quite 'street' it flows and has a wonderful nostalgic power (and my daughter has since remarked such things as 'it's a splendid morning' to our great amusement).
Nesbit was clearly on form when she picked up the pen to compose this volume as there is absolutely no filler and the adventures come thick and fast with the magic of the castle weaving its way through the lives of the characters and mischievously dropping them into awkward pickles that the children must resolve because the adults just wouldn't understand. The ultimate message is clear and affecting, there is magic in life, you just have to recognise it - oh, and be careful what you wish for!
One little note to heed, is that if reading this to a child, be aware that the racial 'n' word appears, which I didn't want to use to a two year old, but it's easily avoided - there is a scene where one of the characters 'blacks-up' in an effort to convince punters at a fair that he is an Indian fakir. You are rather led into the event before you realise what is happening but we used it as an opportunity to explain the beauty of having many races in the world. As Nesbit shows us, only unspoiled minds can see magic, fortunately they are also colour-blind.
But this story is a gem, all things considered, and will appeal to readers of all ages, especially those of us who believe, or need reminding, that there is some magic left in the world
After I read my daughter The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, I was able to show her the 1988 BBC production - how sad that this is not possible for The Enchanted Castle. Come on BBC, make us happy and release this wonderful serial.
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