Showing posts from February, 2020

Let’s Talk About Narnia

Authors generally have a way of talking about Narnia. I’ve noticed it at the various literature festivals I’ve been to and in articles I’ve read online. It goes something like this. “When I was a kid, I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and fell in love with it. Then, at the age of 13/18/32, I noticed all the Christian symbolism and felt betrayed. I’ve never enjoyed it in the same way since.” Whenever I hear/read this, it’s like a stab to the heart. I want to get a word in. Because my experience of Narnia is the complete reverse. I first heard the story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe  as told over several school playtimes by my best friend, the son of a local nonconformist minister. I went on to become completely obsessed by the whole series, reading the books over and over again. Now, I don’t know if my friend or his parents told me, or I just worked it out because I was such a religiously precocious child (I was!) but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t see

A Weekend With the Brontës

I’ve just come back from a new adventure: co-leading HF Holidays’ first ever Brontë Book Club Weekend in the Yorkshire Dales.  I was one of three leaders (the three sisters!) leading guests through two hours of book club style discussion of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I was in charge of the latter book, which could have been the short straw, as Anne has often been the overlooked Brontë sister. But this year is Anne’s 200th birthday, so it’s a great time to look at her work. It was encouraging to hear many of the guests say this was their favourite of the three books, due to its realistic handling of surprisingly modern topics: toxic masculinity, alcoholism, women’s lives etc. Of course, I made sure that, when guests came to my session, they had maximum fun, so as well as deep discussion, we had games like “Which character am I?” and Pass the (Top) Hat. On Sunday afternoon we took our guests on a trip to Haworth Parsonage where, as predicted