In terms of Christmas and Birthday presents, there have been two noticeable trends running through my life since about the age of 10: Books and alarm clocks. No, the two do not go hand in hand, I just happen to have received a lot of them.
I recently finished, in its entirety, The Chronicles of Narnia. I also noticed that the battery had removed itself from the back of my alarm clock. It’s that or my sister or that boy had removed it because they find the ticking annoying. Is it just me that really likes proper, ticky clocks? Anyway, since my ownership of the Chronicles coincided with the receipt of yet another alarm clock, the two strands sort of wound themselves together to form this post.
For my 10th birthday all the presents I received were books, asides from a lovely Forever Friends alarm clock. If you bought me such presents now I would be over the moon, jumping for joy, or (in reality) tucked up in a corner reading straight away. At the time I wasn’t so appreciative. But I did realise that the big, illustrated copy of The Chronicles of Narnia was a thing of beauty. It’s a big, anthology sized sort of book, hardback, with a red ribbon bookmark (I love books with those, but they do tend to fray!), double columns of writing, and borders around every page. Maybe this was the beginning of my love for beautiful books?
Although I had already read The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (and watched the old BBC series that my Mum had on tape – I still prefer it to the newer films!), I decided that since I had this beautifully illustrated edition I should start again at the beginning to appreciate it. Maybe this was a mistake, I don’t know. My reading was on and off as I often got disheartened by the length of time it was taking me to read what didn’t feel like a lot – with pages slightly bigger than A4 and the double columns it seemed to take a long time to get nowhere in a massive book. I still loved the stories.
It was within the last three years that I picked the book back up again. It moved into quite a prominent position in my new, smaller room when I went to uni (my sister now has the bigger room) because it will only fit on a certain size of shelf. I had abandoned it at some point halfway through The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and knew that I would have to finish the whole thing if I ever wanted to tick it off of the BBC list.
As the book is such a size, and so precious to me, it has never come away to Cardiff, but remains on my Kentish bookshelf, along with most of my children’s and YA books and anything that I have read (I have a rotation system due to limited student space). Thus I have been reading it diligently each time I come home for quite a while, trying to finish at least one book each time. Now that I am older the size of the book is much less daunting than it was in earlier attempts, and once I got down to reading it the pages would fly by. I finally finished it when I was last at home about two weeks ago and thought that I wasn’t going to get to write this until Christmas when I was at home and could photograph the book, but here I am again!
Without further ado, my (brief-ish) thoughts on C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia:
These stories have been with me a long time, and I have enjoyed reading them from a young age. Of course I went in with the ‘I know The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe so it’s bound to be my favourite and the best one’ attitude. But the first time I read The Magician’s Nephew was magical as you see how the adventure starts, and I have always found links between stories a very exciting thing. Having now finished them all, I have decided that I do not have a favourite among the seven (The Magician’s Nephew; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, and The Last Battle).
The Chronicles move through the history of Narnia (naturally) and this creates a natural momentum forward between each event. I love how the idea of Narnia means that although the cast of characters we see in each book changes, we also have some constant elements that tie the works together, whilst stories like The Horse and His Boy are set in a different land with different people, but helps to explain what happens later. I know that really this is all obvious stuff, but I found it really appreciable!
When I told people what I was reading some of them did respond with the inevitable ‘Oh but that’s got all those really Christian undertones and meanings etc.’ But it shouldn’t matter! Yes, if you want to read that into it you can. I was reading slightly into the subtext because I’ve been brought up with it, and it conveys that really well. You don’t have to read it though, the books speak for themselves on the surface. Genuinely.
I almost cried when I finished reading. No spoilers, but the ending creates a bed of mixed emotions. And after reading for so long, it was like saying goodbye to an old friend. Of course, The Chronicles of Narnia will always be on my shelf, ready to say hello again whenever I need them!
As for alarm clocks… These have not been quite such constant friends. I can’t remember what happened to the Forever Friends clock, it probably just died at some point. I’ve had a brilliant clock that made a sound like a cockerel when it went off, a Disneyland clock, all sorts. Then there was the wind up clock. It was a tiny little thing, all shiny metal, and you literally had to wind it up every day. It also had a proper traditional dinger, and would go mental every morning. The combined features of this clock led to various consequences: the first being that I would wake up long before the alarm went off every day out of fear of its shear volume. The second was that the dodgy wind up mechanism meant that the clock would speed up and slow down depending where you were in the day. This not only led to multiple times when I just made it to school on time, but also the hysterical morning when I got up at 3 to get ready for work. I walked into my Mum’s room to fetch something and she was like ‘It’s 3 in the morning, what the hell are you doing?!’ I set an alarm on my phone after that and said alarm clock sadly fell to its death from a high shelf at some point soon after. What. A. Shame.
My current clock is a sensible beast, but now that people mention it, it does tick very loudly. Maybe I should just get with the times, give up the dream, and go digital!