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Enchanted Glass Hardcover – April 6, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
WHY I READ THIS BOOK: Diana Wynne Jones new book! Duh!
WHY I FINISHED READING THIS BOOK: A) Diana Wynne Jones builds her plots masterfully. Think of this book as a wonderful English trifle, layered with light sponge cake, then the custard, fresh berries and a little sweet wine to make it all work together. ENCHANTED GLASS is such an apparently effortless creation, funny and exciting and full of the best magical traditions. She begins at the level of the light sponge cake, her narration all charming quirkiness. You are quickly sucked into thoroughly enjoying the pleasure of simply reading a book because it is B) filled with characters you love reading about, weredogs that change into five year old boys, grouchy housekeepers that cook everlasting dishes of cheese cauliflower whenever they are irritated, etc. Lots of tasty kinds of fresh fruit. While you are reading along happily you realize C) The story has deepened. She's added custard! Jones has brought her tale and her use of magic to another level. Magic is a force, a real force, a force to be reckoned with. By this time, all her characters are swirling together desperately while spells, old earth magic, illusions, and galactic forces even greater than "those who fear iron" are at work. So she pitches in a little fine brandy and the thing really sets up.
Oh, and plenty of whipped cream at the end.
WHO I WOULD GIVE THIS BOOK TO: Great news! This is a true stand alone Jones book. To those readers 9 - 12 who find the early Christopher Chant a bit overwhelming, ENCHANTED GLASS will be a great way to sucker them in!
Diana Wynne Jones has written approximately 50 books, most of which are fantasy for young people. They frequently focus on the theme of gifted children who have to make a break from abusive or manipulative family members to develop their gifts on their own. Often whimsical, occasionally spooky, and frequently humorous, her novels often deal with a folksy magic with ordinary-seeming people caring for each other and taking responsibility for their world. ENCHANTED GLASS is no exception to this theme.
Neither Aidan nor Andrew has much practice using magic. Aidan has a magic wallet where money appears when he most needs it and a propensity for making friends. Andrew knows he possesses a "field of care," but it is unclear to him how far its boundaries extend or what he must do to maintain it. They are joined by several other characters with dubious magical abilities: a gardener who seems to have a gift for growing enormous and nasty-tasting vegetables, a former jockey with a knack for growing roses, and a passive-aggressive housekeeper who has a habit of bending people to her will. While initially many of these characters and their habits seem irritating or obstructive, ultimately they provide the backbone of Melstone's magical community and are the best weapon against the ancient and formidable foe that seeks to claim Aidan for its own.
As the town prepares for its annual fair, the magical mayhem spreads. Magical doubles, or "counterparts," start appearing. Aidan makes friends with a weredog and a giant called Groil who eats all the gardener's giant-sized vegetables. People compete with handicrafts and homegrown fare, not realizing that these are the very things that define their community and help to protect their homes. What begins with a generations-old boundary dispute ends with Aidan finding a place to call his own.
ENCHANTED GLASS, like many of Diana Wynne Jones's books, accepts the idea of magical heritage while also refusing to believe that the accident of one's parents must determine one's future. In the scene where Aidan first looks through one of the panes of the magical windows, he hears a voice ask, "What is it you need?" Aidan answers that he needs to be safe: "People keep coming after me." The voice tells him that steps have already been taken to ensure his safety. Then the voice asks if there is anything else he needs: "Have you no ambitions?" Aidan suddenly realizes, "I want to be wise, like Gran and Andrew, and have my own field-of-care and write books about all the amazing things I find out and --- and fix things magically that can't be fixed any other way..."
I've always felt that Jones's books reach for that place --- in many children and for some adults --- that can't be fixed in any other way. Her novels have always seemed to contain lessons on how to recover from the destructive and all-too-common violence that often comes --- many times unintentionally --- from the people who are supposed to love and protect us the most. Her characters are able to reach out to that magic, "one of the great forces of the universe that had come into being right at the beginning, along with gravity and the force that held atoms together, strong as or stronger than any force there..." and heal the things that have been broken. It is thus an apt metaphor that the magic in this book is represented both by very ordinary caretaking activities that create a town, a neighborhood, and a home, and by something as delicate and fragile as colored glass.
Diana Wynne Jones has been seriously ill, and many of her fans are worried that ENCHANTED GLASS will be her last book. It's impossible for me to think of this as her last work. It's equally impossible for me to think of it standing separate from all the other novels she has written. While a stand-alone title, it is also part and parcel of a life's work: books that continue to be an enormous gift to readers both young and old.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am officially a fan of Ms Diana Jones.
Will be checking out more books from her.
Thank you for sharing your stories..