I am part of a local book club...one I haven't been able to attend in over a year. But, I still do the reading. This month was "The Princess and the Goblin" by George MacDonald (1872). I love fanasty, so naturally I was excited about this choice. However, after reading "The Princess and the Goblin" I loved it so much I had to share it!
The first thing I noticed about this book is that MacDonald does an exceptional job of understanding the mind, rational and heart of a child. MacDonald, thankfully, strays from the normal Victorian model of writing that doesn't take childishness into mind... I have actually put down classics about children because they aren't believable in their representation of the character of children. However, one should think MacDonald would know the mind of a child, because he had 13 of them. Even with this, he still allows the fantasy to play out and the unique character of Irene, a princess-child to be all her own... honest, loving, mature, sweet, thoughtful, confused and innocent all at once. I love that Irene knew right and wrong, loved others weaker than her and was loyal, and still curiously afraid... I love her complexity.
The other characters were just as richly written. I loved how Luttie, the nursemaid, was concerned with her job, had fondness for Irene, but was also a bit drawl and had lost her curiosity... like many adults. She treated Irene how most adults treat children... with a pat on the head and a brush off. I loved Curdie... the hero, miner; all boy and yet a man at 13. His love and affection for his mother in working overtime to buy her a new red petticoat because she was a good mother. I loved his chivalry, his honor, his quick wit and good manners despite his lower situation in life... the truth that nobility is of the heart.
I loved the mystery involved... the fantasy, yet believability of the whole book. MacDonald's description was very believable and clear. Most of all I loved that the book seeped out goodness, love and sweetness, yet with out being sickly sweet or moralistic or preachy. It gave lovely glimpses of "heaveness." I learned that "oldness" doesn't mean weakness or less beauty. I loved the illustrations to Biblical truths: omnipresence, sovereignty, destiny, faith, perseverance, doubting, and purity in love.
"The Princess and the Goblin" is a seriously under appreciated children's classic... it should be right up there with "The Chronicles of Narnia" and I am disappointed that it is not! I am adding it to my favorite's list... right near the top! Do read it! You won't be disappointed.