Big Readers Forum Index


At The Back Of The North Wind by George MacDonald

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Big Readers Forum Index -> Discuss children's books here.
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3375


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:00 am    Post subject: At The Back Of The North Wind by George MacDonald  Reply with quote

Finally got round to reading George MacDonald's classic children's book 'At The Back Of The North Wind' (1871) two different editions of which I've had for years and never got round to opening.  
The chief character, Diamond, is a little boy, the son of a coach-driver. He lives over the stable where his father's horse, also called Diamond, lives. The boy is visited by the North Wind in the form of a strange, but beautiful, woman with long black hair.  The North Wind, whose size fluctuates alarmingly, takes Diamond on magical trips all over the place, and they have long conversations. This is the first quarter of the book, and then MacDonald relates the family's troubles and how Diamond learns to be a coach-driver to help his ailing father.  We also meet a poor girl who is a crossing-sweeper and a benevolent gentleman who becomes the family's saviour. Towaards the end of the book Diamond is once more taken on journeys by North Wind - and then there is a typical Victorian ending.  
I quite enjoyed ATBOTNW but found its continual change of narrative focus rather disconcerting. And knowing George MacDonald's Christian credentials I was always vaguely aware of underlying messages. I suspect that North Wind is the personification of some kind of religious inspiration, because after his meetings with her which affect him profoundly, Diamond becomes an asbsolutely Good character, full of wise saws, and whom everybody loves.  
I think the book lacks sufficient conflict, the family's poverty and ailments being not really dramatic enough. The book lacks dramtic scenes and could do with a convincing villain. The book has some rather weak poems - including that famous piece of Victorian sentimentality beginning 'Where did you come from, baby dear' (see the Poetry thread). There's also an interpolated fairytale called 'Little Daylight'.
In spite of what might be regarded as the books drawbacks I kept reading because of its intrinsically fascinating Victorian-ness. And because MacDonald is a good writer who holds the interest.  There are some marvellous decriptive passages.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Gino



Joined: 20 Dec 2008
Posts: 127


Location: UK

PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is noticeable how often poor girls work as crossing sweepers in sad Victorian tales, could it be that they are a respectable substitute for the greater number that were forced by poverty into prostitution but not considered worthy of of pity due to their 'immoral' occupation.




_________________
Peter Gino Marchese
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Big Readers Forum Index -> Discuss children's books here. All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Card File  Gallery  Forum Archive
Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group
Big Readers Theme by Mike Alexander
Based on Artemis by Vjacheslav Trushkin
Create your own free forum | Buy a domain to use with your forum