C.S. LEWIS The Complete
Chronicles of Narnia (with illustrations, hand coloured
by the artist, Pauline Baynes and an Introduction by Brian
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His
Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of "The Dawn Treader", The Silver Chair,
The Last Battle And the book that started all the Narnia adventures
-The Magician's Nephew
Harper Collins -
Hardback 8½" X 11¼", 522 pages. ISBN 0-00-185713-4
Being a child of the 1940s, I missed the Narnia phenomenon.
The first book, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe was published
in 1950. It was subsequently filmed as a cartoon and then BBC TV produced
all the books (except The Magician's Nephew and The LastBattle
as I recall) as a saga through the late 1980s. It was these splendid
dramatisations (please, BBC retransmit them!) that persuaded to me to read
the books when I was in my fifties. (They are just as rewarding for grown-ups,
who can appreciate their mysticism and subtleties.).
When I saw this splendid compilation, I snapped it up as a
birthday present for a young relation of mine and I will confess that before
I handed it over, I enjoyed reacquainting myself with these delightful stories.
C.S. Lewis's warmth and understanding of human strengths and frailties fill
these pages; his fertile imagination, his exciting adventures and colourful
characters appeal to the child in us all. It would be interesting to know
though, what the super-sophisticates, who are the children of today think
of them. I cannot believe that they will not fall in love with them as their
parents and grandparents did.
The charming original illustrations, now hand painted by the
artist, Pauline Baines are included and commingled with the text. Brian Sibley
offers some interesting insights on the influences that guided Lewis's
inspiration in writing the stories and he explains how
The Magician's Nephew came to be written to explain
how Aslan founded Narnia.
A footnote: readers may recall the film Shadowlands (with
an affecting score by George Fenton) in which Anthony Hopkins played C.S.
Lewis. It is the story about him entering a marriage of convenience to an
American lady (touchingly played by Debra Winger), whom he grows to love,
only to learn she has terminal cancer.
A wonderful present for any child but be warned buy it well
in advance of the day because you will be captivated yourself.