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on 21 August 2016
I had only read one other book by the author, the novel, "Howl's Moving Castle", which was adapted by Hayao Miyazaki in the anime film of the same name. Having enjoyed it tremendously, plus the fact that one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman, is a huge fan, made me seek out her other YA fantasy books.

"Enchanted Glass" (2010), the last book published before Jones's death in 2011, features a somewhat bumbling professor, Andrew Hope, who is often "in a world of his own", as the other characters observe of him, and who just so happens to be the grandson of a powerful magician, Jocelyn Brandon. When the old magician dies, Andrew finds that he not only inherits the Melstone house, but also a field-of-care, which is an area of magical responsibility that his grandfather had been in charge of in the surrounding village.

Meanwhile, a young orphan, Aidan Cain, runs away from his foster home in London and lands up mysteriously at Andrew's doorstep. Even as Andrew tries to help the boy, who reminds him of his younger self, a bigger challenge comes his way, in the form of an occultic nemesis, O. Brown, in the village, who is fencing off parts of his property and warning him about his responsibility to keep "counterparts" out of the area, the former which infuriates him, and the latter confusing him. Andrew soon realises that he needs more than his own middling powers which he had not even realised he possessed to protect Aidan and his property.

A myriad of colourful characters enliven the book, like his housekeeper, Mrs Stock, who is more than a little insubordinate, and who sabotages his attempts to move the furniture around, Mr Stock the grumpy old gardener, Mr Stock (who is not in any way related to Mrs Stock, as half the village carries the same surname) who dumps giant inedible vegetables in the kitchen when he is upset, Andrew's inevitable love interest, Stashe, Mr Stock's niece, and soon secretary, as well as Shaun, the oafish nephew of Mrs Stock, who becomes another employee he cannot afford.

The first half of the book, which featured the shadowy figures that were in pursuit of Aidan, and the mystery surrounding his parentage, was promising, and the comedy provided by Andrew's relationship with his help, was entertaining. However, just when things were beginning to heat up, there is a sense that the story folded in upon itself in very hastily, as if in a rush for it all to resolve, which led to a very truncated ending. I suspect that this was a raw if not unfinished work which was published close to the author's death and during her period of sickness, and having read other reviews, am heartened to learn that this was widely considered to be one of her least successful books. If that is the case, then I hope to rediscover the genius I found in "Howl's Moving Castle" in her other works.
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on 12 November 2012
Diana Wynne Jones: Enchanted Glass

I've always greatly admired Diana Wynne Jones for the complex simplicity of her writing. She manages to convey emotional depth without seeming to pour it all out on the page. A lot of what you perceive in a DWJ book is hidden between the words. Yet the words are elegant and smooth.

University lecturer Andrew Hope inherits his magician grandfather's estate, the strong-minded staff that go with it and his field-of-care. Though he spent childhood holidays with the old man, Andrew's forgotten a lot of the stories, remembering only frangments, some of them rather odd, like having to put his gardener's overgrown, oversized vegetables on the roof of the shed from where they mysteriously disappear overnight.

Andrew wants nothing more than to write his book, but his staff and his neighbours have other ideas.

Into this situation young Aidan Cain turns up to seek protection from the grandfather, not realising he's dead. Andrew, intuitive if not informed, takes him in and thus starts a double mystery. They need to work out the question before they can find the answer.

There's a cast of great characters, Mrs Stock the housekeeper and Mr Stock the gardener (not related), Tarquin the one-legged ex-jockey who grows roses, his daughter Stashe, girl groom and computer whiz. Mrs Stock's amiable idiot-savant grandson and his magical counterpart, Groil. And then there's Mr Brown, who's more than he seems. Why has he fenced off part of Andrew's woodland and severed his field-of-care? And just what is a field-of-care anyway and why does Andrew need to look after it? Andrew says he isn't a magician, but he's inherited more than money from his grandfather and with the help of friends and neighbours he manages to wrangle his way to the truth in the end.

This is a lovely book and has the advantage that it can be read on many levels. It's the story of a boy in danger, of a man trying to find his way, of a magical mystery, of personal relationships and a slow burning romance. It's published as a children's book but makes equally good adult fare for those who like a cosy read with a high feelgood factor.
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on 1 May 2017
Entertaining light reading
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on 25 February 2015
Highly recommend this if you are into mystical story lines...kept me hooked from beginning to end.
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on 16 January 2010
Fans of Wynne Jones may be disappointed to find that none of their favourite characters appear, but she's created another new set. Absent-minded academic Andrew inherits his grandfather's house and magical responsibilities without a briefing on what these are. He also inherits two warring members of staff, who try to control him and infiltrate their relatives into his life. Aidan, a young orphan, arrives on the doorstep. Andrew and Aidan help each other to discover their magical abilities and the powers of the house, seeing off magical attack by creatures that don't use iron, led by the sinister Mr Brown. Readers of "The Pinhoe Egg", another recent Wynne Jones in the Chrestomanci series, may detect similarities - barbed wire barriers set up in the wood by a menacing power; uncovering magical powers where they lay hidden in a house; people who may or may not be magical creatures. Like her novella "The Game", mythological creatures turn out to be real. Lots of delightful inventions and conceits, including a magic wallet, a mysterious consumer of oversized vegetables, and a loyal were-dog. Andrew grows into his inheritance - literally - and after a happy ending, one is left wanting to know what happens next to the characters - as with so many other Wynne Jones stories.
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VINE VOICEon 28 March 2010
Diana Wynne Jones offers her usual winning formula of engaging, slightly rumpled, protagonists and satisfyingly sinister villains whose adventures play out in a world which is almost, but not quite, our own. There's lots of whimsical comedy (think Wodehouse, Bujold or Heyer) as well as magic and mystery. I enjoyed this novel very much but felt just a little disappointed that still more wasn't done with its main source - a very famous work which I won't name as it's not revealed until a little way into the novel. A little more interplay between the source and `Enchanted Glass' would have added extra richness and resonance to the novel. I also found the implications of the novel's punch line oddly nasty.
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on 12 June 2017
As with many of Jones's books the setting is one where there seems to be magic, but it is not quite out in the open. Many of the main characters have some form of magic that is inherently linked to their personality - another staple of Jones's work. In the case of Stashe O'Connor it only manifests in small ways, but both Andrew and Aidan have a lot of magical talent, even if neither fully understands what they can do and they have to help each other to discover their powers.

Andrew Hope and Aidan Cain (whose name no one can get right) are the main characters. Man and boy have quite a few similarities. Both had a close relationship with a magical grandparent, both have family issues that are only partly explored. Both can do powerful magic, but aren't quite sure of themselves. Academic Andrew seems very passive and non-confrontational, causing him to have a reputation as an absent-minded professor (not that he is a professor at all). When in fact he arranges things to avoid confrontation and has a very solid presence that he doesn't always reveal. Aidan is a brave kid who runs from London to strangers in Melstone House when weird forces pursue him. He is able to show Andrew a child's-eye view of things, and reminds him of things that he had forgotten when grown up and preoccupied with adult concerns. Stashe O'Connor is the main female character, who is manipulated into helping in Andrew's house by her uncle, but soon proves invaluable at spotting when odd things are happening and sorting out problems.
The book is full of supporting characters from the small town of Melstone. Most of them have the surname Stock (Jones rightly shows that in some parts of England you do find people who aren't directly related who all have the same surname). Andrew's housekeeper and gardener are both determined to keep doing things their way and scheme against him and each other to gain the upper hand. The conflict between these characters is domestic and well written, providing much entertainment as well as contributing to the plot as much as the actions of the main characters. They are perhaps caricatures, but they are bold and memorable.

This is a fun book, full of personality and magic. The plot is well paced and rarely falls into obvious or predictable patterns. It has many of the elements often found in Jones's other stories, including an antagonist who is not immediately apparent, a modern link to folktale characters, magic in unexpected places and people getting on with their lives in the face of the unusual.
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on 17 June 2011
I only discovered the books of Diana Wynne Jones in the last few years and so regret the years without these imaginative and clever stories, but there is at least the consolation that I have a backlog to work my way through.

"Enchanted Glass" is another inventive story with the author's usual quirky sense of humour. Unlike some of her other work this story places the magical events and people against the backdrop of everyday life, but despite this the author conjures up a quite extraordinary world. It goes without saying, or at least it does to me, that the writing is fluent and easy to read, the characters are engaging and well formed and that the plot races along at just the right pace. As usual, the plot is not revealed early on and one has to read the whole book in order to find out where it is going, but this is certainly an example of where the journey is a great part of the pleasure of the book and well worth the effort. All in all well worth five stars.

We are told that this was a stand alone book yet the story leaves potential for more and it is a great shame that the sad loss of this talented author means that we will not see that.
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on 25 August 2017
Not one of her best, but it has some good points.

I was confused by who the protagonist was. It was filed as a younger YA book, but one of the viewpoint characters was a thirty-something professor, which seemed like an odd choice and didn’t quite fit with the tone of the book or what I expect from Diana Wynne Jones. The other, a teenage runaway with a mysterious past, was much more engaging and I wish the book had been written exclusively from his point of view. Or I could have handled the odd chapter from the professor where it was needed for background information.

The usual whimsical sense of humour was present and correct, but the plot itself was a bit lacking, and there was no sense of adventure. There were quite long sections of the book where not much was happening, or whenever something did happen they took a break to go back home for dinner and sleep. When the antagonist or his minions did appear they were brilliantly creepy and the potential was there, but they had too little time in direct conflict with the protagonists. The magic system – the idea of faerie folk spawning human counterparts when they spend too long in one place – was a fantastic idea but didn’t have much impact on the plot. Instead, it almost seemed thrown in as an aside.

The final resolution felt like a letdown – not the showdown between the two sides but the way the outstanding questions and plot threads were tied up, which didn’t have any (or not enough) foundation in everything that had gone before.
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on 2 May 2011
Andrew Hope's magician grandfather dies, leaving his home, Melstone House, and field-of-care to his grandson. Even though Andrew spent a lot of his childhood learning about magic from his grandfather, he seems to have forgotten most of it. At the top of the list, what exactly is this field-of-care business about? But he does remember the old and colourful stained-glass window set into the kitchen door, and that it is important to protect it. As Andrew tries to get to grips with his new role he also has to deal with his grandfather's staff who seem to be determined that things should remain as they have always been. Then one morning Aidan Cain arrives on Andrew's doorstep asking for help. No one seems to know who this young man is, but there no arguing that there is a connection between the two and that someone sinister is looking for Aidan. There are mysteries to be solved and answers to be found.

Diana Wynne Jones has been described by Neil Gaiman as "The best children's writer of the last 40 years" (Observer) and I think he may be onto something there. This is only the second book I have read by Diana Wynne Jones, but I have loved both of them. She's definitely an author worth reading if you enjoy charming and humorous fantasy.

I really enjoyed the plot of this novel. It is quite straightforward, but the story is told so well that it would have been a shame to complicate things any more. Enchanted Glass is really more about the characters than about what happens to them and the straightforward plot design is perfectly suited to this kind of story. It was quite refreshing, for a change, to read a book that didn't have complicated subplots to keep track of. But don't let this make you assume that Enchanted Glass is an overly simple book. It isn't. The plot may be straightforward, but the story is well told and will appeal to readers both young and old. At its heart, this book is about finding where you belong and Wynne Jones has woven a magical tale around this central theme.

Enchanted Glass is populated by truly fabulous characters. There is Andrew Hope, whose absent-minded nature results in the whole village calling him 'Professor'. Despite his unassuming exterior, there is strength in Andrew which we first catch a glimpse of in his battle of wills with Mrs Stock, the housekeeper. As the story progresses, that strength becomes more evident and it was great to watch the growth in this character. The household staff, Mr Stock and Mrs Stock (no relation), are two more of the great personalities to be found in Enchanted Glass. Mrs Stock's battles with Andrew over the furniture placement and Mr Stock's determination to grow the biggest vegetables ever seen are delightful and add colour and personality to the book. Then there is Susan, Andrew's love interest, who uses the horse racing results as an oracle. I could wax lyrical about all of the characters, but I don't like to spoil books and I think that there is great pleasure to be had in meeting them for the first time yourself.

Enchanted Glass is a magical tale about finding your place in the world and I would recommend it to anyone without a moment's hesitation.
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