Spain Remembers

Spain Remembers

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I Graduated from Hogwarts but I Don't Want to Go

by Joan Baril
If it had not been for Ruth, I would never have  jumped on board the Hogwarts' Express.
It was 1997 and the members of the No Stress Book Club were discussing our recent reading. Ruth, who had just returned from a Florida vacation said, "I hate to admit it but I really enjoyed a children's book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Best beach reading ever."

I did a mental head slap.  How could a grown woman admit to reading a children book? So embarrassing. I did not know which way to look.  A stunned silence ensued before someone quickly changed the subject.  But that week my granddaughters enthused about the book and I asked to borrow it.

Nobody warned me.  No one told me that when you open the cover of the first Potter book, a magic hand appears, takes a firm grip on your imagination and pulls you in. You will never be the same. Great writing, amazing characters, crackling plot, vivid settings, pathos, humour, fun and, above all, the overwhelming originality of an alternative world have you sitting up reading on into the night.

Luna Lovegood  played by Evanna Lynch
I was tremendously lucky to have climbed aboard at the beginning and began the wild ride through seven books and eight movies.  Now, the end. 

Thank you Ruth and, above all, thank you J. K. Rowling.

Rowling is a good, fast-paced writer.  Her point of view character in every book is Harry, the boy wizard, and she never leaves Harry throughout.  From the start, we care about the little boy consigned by cruel minders to the cupboard under the stairs. Very soon, Harry finds his  friends, Ron and Hermione, and the strength of the series is in the power of the trio, three close friends, each very different in personality,  who love each other and bond together.  They may quarrel from time to time, but they are always there for each other.  The book is, among other things,  a tribute to  friendship.

Rowling broke the rule that a book should have only three main characters.  Like Dickens, she brings them on, a parade of memorable people, (as well as dwarfs, house elves, werewolves and magic animals).  She is not content with one villain but throws in a dozen or so including my favourite villain on all time, Deloras Umbridge, she of the pink suits and charming smiles.  Some of her villains resemble modern politicians. The crawling Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic, come to mind.

Severus Snape played by Alan Rickman
Also magical is the close bond between movie and book so that you cannot recall one without the other.  I cannot state another instance when book and movie so mesh.  You cannot think of Hagrid without picturing Robbie Coltrane in the role. Snape has to be the Alan Rickman Snape, no other depiction would fit. Can you imagine a Bellatrix Lestrange played by anyone but Helena Bonham Carter? Impossible. 

Everyone has their favourite book or movie, their favourite secondary character, their favourite scene so I'll toss in mine.  Feel free to disagree.
Two Great Actors -Emma Thompson and Maggie Smith
Best book - The Prisoner of Azkaban (The elf Dobie is introduced in a rollicking opening scene)
Best Movie - The Goblet of Fire  (the Hogwarts ball is a romp, the death at the end a shock)
Favourite villain - Deloras Umbrige played by Imelda Stanton
Favourite Hogwarts teacher - Alan Rickman as Severus Snape. 
Saddest moment - the Death of Dobie ("Here Lies Dobie, A Free Elf").
Favourite Hogwarts Student - Luna Lovegood
Favourite magical animal - The Cornish Pixies
Scariest moment in the movies - Lupin becomes a werewolf.

But as I write this list, I realize the categories are too limiting. I could chose five favourite villains, or five favourite Hogwarts' students or five remarkable scenes.  Other generations of readers, both adult and children,  will experience their own magical world.

J. K. Rowling has found the philosopher's stone,  the magic tasliman that confers eternal life.  As long as there are books and children who love magic, her works will live forever.

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