Abi Elphinstone on the magic symbolized by a certain wardrobe.
The book I wish I’d written? It’s a tough call between Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch series, Roald Dahl’s Matilda, Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights and C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. But I think C.S. Lewis wins.
No other moment in literature has affected me so powerfully as when Lucy Pevensie pushes open that wardrobe door. I’ve always loved the idea that ordinary objects from our world might be portals to another world but I felt the wardrobe stood for more than just a gateway into a fictional land. It signaled the start of an adventure, a glimpse into an eternal winter and a promise that witches, fauns and wolves lay ahead. It became, for me, like Cinderella’s glass slipper or Little Red Riding Hood’s cape – an iconic symbol of magic – and even now, I can’t look at a wardrobe without imagining Narnia beyond it.
C.S. Lewis’ characters are exquisitely drawn – Lucy’s curiosity, Edmund’s betrayal, Mr Tumnus’ self loathing, the White Witch’s cruelty and Mr and Mrs Beaver’s generosity – and the narrative voice is so wise, warm and magical I felt, as a child, that C.S. Lewis had written the book just for me.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (978-0-0073-2312-8) by C. S. Lewis is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, £5.99
Abi Elphinstone’s new book The Shadow Keeper (978-1-4711-2270-5), book 2 in the series that began with The Dreamsnatcher (978-1-4711-2268-2) is published by Simon and Schuster, £6.99.