Book Review: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Children easily lose themselves in imaginary worlds. In the days before video games, we lost ourselves in worlds of cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, little green army men, etc. My wife tells me she would get lost in worlds of dolls and Barbies. It’s sad that most of us seem to lose our imagination gift as we grow older. Perhaps we simply fail to continue the practice. (Plus, they frown upon playing cops and robbers at my bank.) But if I no longer can conjure my own imagination at will, then let me find a book into which I can immerse myself; give me a portal into another world. Sometimes we need an escape, an exit from our world, its craziness and anxieties, to a fantasy world dreamed up by a gifted dreamer.

By then I had fallen in love with Narnia

Years ago, I asked my dad for five of the greatest Christian books of all time. One of the five books he gave me was Lewis’ Mere Christianity, which blew me away. I would list it in my top ten favorite books of all time. Within a year of my introduction to Lewis, I also read The Screwtape Letters and The Problem of Pain. I was hooked. To this day he remains my favorite author for both fiction and non-fiction. But I’d never read the Chronicles of Narnia books because, well, they were children’s books (or so I thought). When Disney made a movie of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in 2005, that was the first time I ever immersed myself in book one. I watched the next two movies Disney released and, soon after, received the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre adaptations from Mom one Christmas. And, yes, I finally did read them for myself, too. S. Lewis and Narnia as well.

And now I want others to fall in love with C

The first book in the series, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, takes place during World War II, during the Blitz, when London was being bombed by the Nazis and many children were sent away to the countryside and safer havens. Four siblings, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie find themselves living in the big old mysterious country home of an odd old professor and his strict housekeeper, Mrs. Macready. Peter is the oldest, the one who feels most responsible for his siblings but he is also the most adventurous. Susan is the most cautious, the most parent-like (not a good thing in a “children’s novel”); she tends to be a wet blanket, the one most likely to ruin a good adventure. Edmund is the sibling with the chip on his shoulder who, without tastebuds App his parents around, resents being given direction by either of his older siblings. He is envious, ornery, sulky, nasty, and “beastly” to others. Lucy, the youngest, is still filled with child-like wonder and faith.

These children of London, kids from the city, cannot wait to explore the country. But, Drat! the English weather is rainy and dreary; so they must settle for indoor adventures and decide to explore the house. And what a house it is, filled with books and old furniture, back stairways, endless passages, and mysterious doors. It is perfect for Hide and Seek, etc.

In one of the rooms of this mysterious house, Lucy finds an old wardrobe (what some might call an armoire, and what my grandparents would have called a chifforobe) as she pushes through the fur coats, further in than seemed quite possible, she finds the temperature is getting colder and colder. Suddenly, she breaks free of the coats and finds herself in a snowy wood, near an oddly located lamp post, just as a faun (a half-human half goat-like creature) is passing by with an umbrella over his head and packages under his arm. She has mysteriously stumbled into the land of Narnia, an enchanted world where some animals talk and mythological creatures still exist.