Viewing Blog: The Great Raven, Most Recent at Top
Results 26 - 50 of 637
This is a book review and science fiction blog, for the most part, with the odd convention report and travel notes. And maybe the occasional Celtic goddess, such as the Great Raven...
Statistics for The Great Raven
Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 2
It's also the birthday of Australian of the Year shortlist member Li Cunxin, who told his story in the wonderful Mao's Last Dancer, which my students have loved, and took time off a busy schedule, planning a tour for the Queensland Ballet, to answer some questions from a group of his young fans here.
Even though you didn't win, Li Cunxin, you're always Aussie of the Year to us.
Happy birthday and wishing you many more happy years contributing to the arts in Australia, even if you never write another book.
I have made my first sale for the year! Yay!
Later this year, my story which as yet has the rather silly title "The Sheepdog In The Stable"(I don't mind if it changes, I am hopeless at titles), will appear in a book of stories, poems, memoirs, art and such to be published by Christmas Press.
A few weeks ago, I had an invitation to submit from the delightful Sophie Masson. The book will be on a Christmas theme. She didn't mind if it was already-published. It just had to be about Christmas, aimed at children between five and twelve and no more than 1500 words in length.
I had never written anything Christmas-themed unless you count a piece of fan fiction I wrote years ago and that was definitely not aimed at children. So I had to come up with something new. And it had to be aimed at an age group younger than I've written for before. I have written often for 8-12, but it was always more suitable for the older age of that range. If Sophie didn't want it, I wasn't sure who would. Perhaps NSW School Magazine, but I've never sold them fiction before, only non fiction, and if they didn't want it either....
Still, I had to give it a go. How flattering is that, when someone you admire thinks your writing is likely to be suitable for her by-invitation anthology!
I started with a story which was going to be about a family getting together for Christmas and it would turn out that they were living in a small rural community of werewolves somewhere in Victoria. I couldn't get that going in a way that would suit young children. It was an adult concept. I may use it yet, but not now.
I didn't want to lose the werewolves, though. So I went for the school Nativity Play, something that isn't common these days with so many multicultural communities, I set it in a school not unlike my own, though primary, and I had a boy who was an unusual type of multicultural. In fact, I sort of set it in an alternative universe in which everyone takes unicorns and werewolves and such for granted, Joan Aiken-style, and the sudden appearance of a wolf cub in a Nativity Play only gets the reaction,"Hey, that is so cool!" The country of Armorique, originally a part of the triple-mooned world of Wolfborn, was sneaked into this one.
I wasn't sure it would work, but finally, after a lot of fiddling, decided that sooner or later, I would have to submit it or give up. I submitted it, fingers crossed.
Both Sophie and the editor, Beattie, thought it very funny(Beattie said she nearly snorted her coffee through her nostrils reading it). And this reminds me of something once said at a seminar I attended, by Rosalind Price of Allen and Unwin: "If you can make me laugh, I'll buy it." I like a touch of humour, if not more, in anything I write.
Beattie added that she loved that unicorns were still living in Armorique and she wanted to go there! Sophie suggested I consider writing a novel with Armorique in it. Well, I have, but I think she meant the present day, with the silliness of taken-for-granted fantastical creatures.
I'll think about it. :-)
I've just downloaded the book to my iBooks shelf and am very much looking forward to reading it. The cover is a simple monochrome dinosaur from a 19th century public domain publication, done so deliberately, although he could have found something more elaborate on a Creative Commons site - it will work better on an ereader, for one thing.
Here's the link for you. If you like the stories in this book, there's more by Simon on the PBB website, each book about the price of a cup of coffee. And of course, there's the wonderful anthology, Light Touch Paper Stand Back, which has had a lot of guest posts on this blog from contributors and which had a story of mine in it. ;-) Simon was a co-editor on this.
Go get your freebie and tell me what you think.
"However this ends, you're probably going to find out some things about me, and they re not nice things. But, Ash, even after you know, do you think you could remember the good? And whatever you end up discovering - try to think of me kindly. If you can." Ember Crow is missing. To find her friend, Ashala Wolf must control her increasingly erratic and dangerous Sleepwalking ability and leave the Firstwood. But Ashala doesn t realise that Ember is harbouring terrible secrets and is trying to shield the Tribe and all Illegals from a devastating new threat - her own past.
This is a sequel to The Interrogation Of Ashala Wolf, the first of The Tribe series. If you haven't read the first book, it might be a good idea to do that before reading this one. It's sort of stand-alone, but the first book sets up the universe and you really need to know who the characters are and why they're hiding out in the forest.
In case you haven't read it and want the details, here they are: in the first novel, we met Ashala Wolf, an Illegal, who lives in a future world where, due to environmental abuse, the planet has suffered major changes that have affected the tectonic plates and once again, we have a Pangaia. The good news is that people are finally taking care of the planet, have, in fact, turned it into a virtual religion based on the teachings of an Alexander Hoffman. The bad news is that people with unusual abilities are placed in detention centres. Ashala was one of a group of children and teens who had escaped into the forest and started their own tribe. The nearby Gull City camp is run by a villain called Neville Rose, who was dealt with at the end of that novel, but there are things that Ashala and her tribe didn't know, about him and others who supported him, and now, her friend Ember Crow, has vanished. Ashala isn't going to leave her friend, no matter what messages she receives from her, asking her not to follow...
It's wonderful to see that a sequel is as good as the original. It doesn't suffer from "middle book syndrome". The author, an indigenous Australian, includes more of her heritage here, develops it further, yet you are reminded this is not Australia, it's the only continent left on Earth, although in an afterword, the author admits the landscape is one familiar to her.
Ashala also develops as a character. She has to learn to stop holding back her beloved Connor, whose death she fears after he came back from it in the last book. Their relationship won't survive otherwise and sometimes looks as if it might be destroyed.
The serious storyline, with plenty of action, still manages to include some humour, such as Ashala nearly choking on her drink when a very special cat tells her telepathically that her person is her pet. I personally believe in the importance of at least touches of humour in even the most serious fiction. And this one has plenty!
If you liked the first book, you won't be disappointed in this one. If you haven 't read it, what are you waiting for?
|With Charlotte, a wombat he sponsored at Taronga Zoo|
|With me at Aussiecon 3|
Jan was funny, warm, cuddly and knew absolutely EVERYONE. He even had a letter from J.R.R Tolkien and was planning a Tolkien convention when he died.
|With Charlotte the wombat and Anne Devrell|
But for me, he was science fiction personified. I first encountered him at my sister's home while babysitting my first nephew, David. I'd read some classic SF at school, of course - some Wells and Verne and others, including some guy called Donald Suddaby whose books are, I think, long out of print, but you can still find him on a Google search. And there was the TV science fiction - I had been a Star Trek fan since childhood and loved the Doctor. There were the Irwin Allen shows when I was growing up too - for a long time, I found Lost In Space irritatingly silly, though looking back I have come to appreciate and enjoy its 1960s campiness - and the music was by Alexander "Star Trek" Courage and a certain "Johnny Williams" - yes, THAT John Williams!
But Asimov was my introduction to real, modern SF. My sister was a major fan(probably still is)and had all his works on her shelves. On a Saturday night, my best bet was to read the short fiction. And I did - all of it that was available at the time. I read more in the following years, but that was the time of the classics. Foundation, the robot books, the science fictional mysteries...
Even if you haven't heard of most modern SF writers, I bet you've heard of Asimov, even if it's only through the movies based on them, such as The Bicentennial Man and I, Robot.
And writers are still using Asimov's Laws Of Robotics, the ones about a robot not hurting a human or allowing one to come to harm, without necessarily realising where they come from. I have only recently asked one of the writers in my issue of Andromeda Spaceways to do a small rewrite to remove a mention of the laws of robotics because they belong to Asimov. Asimov is only one of a number of writers who have so affected fiction that people don't know it comes from a book. For example, Merlin is often mentioned as living backwards - something that only happened in T.H. White's The Sword In The Stone, but now everyone uses it.
Asimov grew up in the Golden Age of SF, when the pulps were on all the news stands and the good writers got their start among a lot of schlock and went on to become famous. He managed to persuade his father, who thought SF was rubbish, that it was educational because it had "science" in its name.
If you want his biography, it's on Wikipedia - this is just an appreciation of the man whose writing gave me the "sensawunda" that made me a fan of speculative fiction.
Here, if you're interested, is a link to an article that quotes what he predicted in 1964 about the year 2014 - enjoy!
I've been ordered to teach Year 8 history this coming year. It's not that I know nothing about history, I know plenty, especially about the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the eras being studied, but teaching it? How?
One thing we're apparently supposed to do is teach the difference between primary and secondary sources. Here I'm on firmer ground. But how many primary sources do we have for the Middle Ages that you can teach to thirteen year olds?
So I have decided to start the year with other primary sources, just to give them an idea. I've got some newspaper articles from the 1960s about the Beatles visit to Melbourne. I've also discovered the joys of Trove, the National Library site that is in the process of digitising newspapers from 1803 on and the Women's Weekly between 1933 and 1982.
The Weekly is my primary source of choice. I picked a PDF of the issue for September 16 1939, which I can put on USB stick and show on an interactive whiteboard. There's a cover with a cute picture of a baby. So what, I might ask, was happening in September 1939? A student with an iPad can look it up: the beginning of World War II. Priorities? But this is a women's magazine. You aren't going to put a picture of a soldier on the cover or even the PM. And the first article is all about how women should be keeping busy and the author's mother had eight kids and never bought a cake or used an electric iron and did fine. There are photos of happy housewives cleaning.
Flipping further into the issue, you do find references to the war. There's a lot of human interest stuff - a letter from a girl in Poland assuring her mother she'll be fine(despite the Nazi invasion), pictures of cute kids being evacuated from London to the countryside, advice on stocking your medicine cabinet and how you, as a woman, can contribute to the war effort.
There is also plenty of fiction, knitting patterns, movie reviews(Wuthering Heights with Laurence Olivier gets a good one), fashion photos, an article about those cute kids Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland and ads for feminine-themed products. - soap, face powder, corsets, floor polish, baby formula.
And I love it. If I was writing a story set in Australia in the 1930s, this magazine would tell me how ordinary people lived, what they fantasised about, how much stuff cost in those days, what was on at the movies...
I will also look for some secondary sources:"Daily life in Australia in 1939" perhaps.
I may show them some of the research I did on the Beatles visit to Melbourne in 1964; you can now save newspaper articles to your USB stick at the State Library, and I did.
When I do have to get on to the Middle Ages, perhaps images will do some of the primary sources for me - peasants in the fields, a feast in the castle, war, there are illuminated manuscripts for them all.
For Vikings, there's that Arab traveller who describes the Vikings in Russia as the dirtiest people he'd ever seen, must find that on line somewhere... He also describes a funeral for a chieftain, very gruesome, including a human sacrifice of a slave girl who ends up being killed to keep the chieftain company in the Otherworld, AFTER some other horrible things, but I'm not sure I'd be allowed to show them that. They'd like the bit about dirty Vikings, though.
Can I persuade them that history is important? That research is worth doing?
Let's see how it goes.
Think Charlie And The Chocolate Factory with a huge variety of creatures instead of Oompa Loompas, with a just a touch of Odo Hirsch, and without Willy Wonka - Uncle Archie is a genius, but not quite in the same way. The creatures aren't just minions, they participate in the design and creation of such things as TransMints(Get Your Freshness Direct From The Web). I also thought of Jim Henson's muppets.
There's a charming silliness about the whole novel(imagine getting away with being smuggled past security disguised as a giant pork dumpling! Not to mention the "expectavator", a lift staffed by a sort of worm who goes down by thinking about his divorce and up by making travellers feel hopeful) that children should enjoy.
There are some loose ends in the final scenes that make me wonder if a sequel is intended. We'll have to see. The art was delightful, though I'd like to know who the illustrator was, if it wasn't the cover artist. Just one thing: while I expect primary children to enjoy the story, there are some words rather too long or at least too hard for the average child and certainly too long for reluctant readers. Hopefully, this will change in any sequel that might be written. And I think there will be - there is too much character and world building to leave it at one novel.
Meanwhile, recommended for mid/late primary school readers and early secondary.
There was a lot to like about this film, though I think the Orcs are overdone, with too much of an effort to link it with LOTR. I like the fact that some, at least, of the Dwarves have individual personalities, expanded still more in Part 2. The casting is generally very good - well, if Thorin is just a bit too hot, as are his nephews, for a Tolkien story, I am a lady who likes male eye candy and Richard Armitage also has a beautiful speaking voice and I adore men with beautiful voices. One with both - yum!
But Martin Freeman is absolutely right for Bilbo. As soon as I heard he'd been cast in the role, I thought of his role as Arthur Dent, another man who is dragged kicking and screaming out of his comfort zone, and knew he could do it.
And Stephen Fry was a deliciously nasty Master of Laketown, who certainly enjoyed himself in the role.
The first film was relatively close to the novel; this one has moved a fair distance from it. Again, I won't go into much detail due to spoilers - I think anyone who has been following the series knows, anyway, about the invented Elf shield maiden Tauriel and that Legolas appears in his father's woodland kingdom. I'd like to add that he isn't the nice Elf we meet in LOTR and it's hard to imagine him eventually having a Dwarf as his best friend, though he does get to see a portrait of "Ma wee lad Gimli" taken from Gloin when the Elves capture the Dwarves in Mirkwood.
But there are other scenes where I thought, "Oh, nooo! You can't DO that!" and I suspected that Tolkien would have done the same.
It was visually stunning. Certain characters had their roles expanded, but that was okay and mostly necessary. There was a lot of action, including in the Lonely Mountain. Thorin is definitely getting darker - I do hope he will be allowed that wonderful final scene where he says that the world would be a better place if more people liked good food and drink and such ordinary things. Because in the end, no matter how many aristocrats and epic heroes he sends running through his fiction, it's the ordinary people who are Tolkien's real heroes.
No point in seeing this film if you haven't seen the first or at least read the book and if you have done either or both, you'll probably go to see this one anyway. Then wander back and share your thoughts here.
Anyone else got any comments to make about this film? Especially if you've read the book?
I know how he felt. A beautiful piece of film making and if they added stuff and sneaked in Radagast the Brown with a chariot pulled by rabbits...well, it was Sylvester McCoy, who was perfect for the role and I could pretend he'd been in LOTR. And Thorin Oakenshield was a lot younger and sexier than Tolkien's, but he was brilliantly portrayed by Richard Armitage. So what? Aragorn was also younger and sexier-looking than Tolkien's and we ended up accepting him. And the Dwarves all had individual personalities, well thought out. And the film was made by people who loved Tolkien.
But there were things that don't quite make sense. The second time around, I could see that they were there for a reason that will become clearer in the rest of the movie, if you think of it as one very long film instead of three. Better still, the director's cut, which I watched tonight, slipped in some more stuff that made sense of the rest. I won't issue any spoilers here.
Not that I mind some spoilers for myself. See, I bought a large number of volumes of the History Of Middle Earth, which are tons of bits and pieces Tolkien wrote but that didn't make their way into the novels. For example, Gimli mentions that he was around during the quest of Erebor(The Hobbit to you and me) but was too young to be taken along, only sixty years old. There's a scene from the meeting of the White Council, where Gandalf is having a smoko during a break and Saruman says rude things about his smoking this hobbit substance which is affecting his brain cells and Gandalf tells him to lighten up(which maybe he does, since Merry and Pippin discover that stash of Longbottom Leaf in his tower). And Gandalf describes his first meeting with Thorin at the inn in Bree - a scene I've read will be in the next movie, which I'm going to see on Thursday. Nice!
I know it's not quite The Hobbit as we know it, but there's quite a lot that is still Tolkien.
I, for one, can't wait.
This was originally written as a submission for a Christmas-themed anthology before I realised the antho was aimed at children, so I'm working on something more appropriate for that(fingers crossed!) and this post is my contribution to the compulsory holidays blogging that everyone else seems to be doing. There's only one book mentioned, The London Ritz Book Of Breakfasts.
Boxing Day used to be a day out for the girls - Mum, my sister Mary and me. We went each year to the Treble Clef restaurant in Southbank for breakfast, then off to the Boxing Day sales, where I'd invariably buy a towel and some gifts for my gift box. Then there would be the Boxing Day blockbuster movie, after I'd seen Mum off on the tram.
After the Treble Clef closed, I invited Mum and Mary to my home for breakfast. I had a book, The London Ritz Book Of Breakfasts, I was keen to try. From it, I took recipes for Irish soda bread, fancy scrambled eggs and breakfast mocha made with melted chocolate and percolated coffee. I added fresh-squeezed orange juice, summer fruits and smoked salmon.
The next year, my father and my brother-law, Gary, asked to join us. The year after, my nephews arrived, the elder one, David, with his two daughters in tow and the younger, Mark, with a baby bird fallen from the nest(we called someone to take it). That was before Mark married and became father of two delightful small boys.
I eventually got a larger table, one of those you can stretch, to make room for some of my extended family in the small living-room of my flat - and even that table was too small for everyone; we crammed in.
It became a tradition. Each Christmas Eve I would shop for the ingredients of my family breakfast: smoked salmon, ground coffee for the percolator, a bag of oranges to squeeze for juice, the ingredients for my Irish soda bread, which I only baked once a year, but did well, fresh summer fruits such as watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, apricots and various berries. (David's two little girls, Dezzy and Rachel, had never tasted raspberries and loved them). I made sure there were eggs for the scrambled eggs, and cheese for most of us, but not for my brother-in-law, who doesn't enjoy it. I gave up the mocha, as my mother thought it too sweet, so stuck with brewed coffee and tea. I'd do my shopping either at Prahran or Queen Vic market, good places to buy gourmet stuff and likely to be selling fruit cheaply at the end of the market day.
On Boxing Day I would get up early to bake bread, percolate coffee and set the table with goodies. The family would wander in at about 10 am, and enjoy the feast. My sister would comment that my bread was better each year. My brother-in-law was willing to delay his Boxing Day cricket to come along.
It ended when my father passed away. I had a simple, cut-down version of the breakfast for my friends Bart and Siu Ling a day before Dad died, and before I went to visit him in the hospital. Somehow, it just wasn't the same. Each year, we remember him at this time. I've gone back to Christmas Day beach picnics. I prefer not to party on New Year's Eve these days, remembering the storm on that first New Year's Eve after the funeral, though I might go to the Rocky Horror Picture Show if I'm in the mood.
But those years of the Boxing Day breakfast with my family, when I made a London Ritz gourmet meal for them, are a precious memory. I recall them with pleasure as well as sadness.
Over the last few years, she has done writers' workshops and more and, with some friends, has set up a wonderful blog called Writer Beware, in which they have exposed some shonky publishers and publishing deals and goodness knows, with so many books being self-published these days, there is a need for this sort of information, though it's not only the self-pub companies or even the small presses that rip off writers. I have been following it out of general interest.
Now, Ann has written this post to announce that her life is coming to an end, with no certainty of how much longer she has. If you have read her work or even have an interest in this subject matter, do wander over and take a look. I've left a comment and so can you, if you like.
We're losing too many wonderful creative people. Fred Pohl, a writer from the Golden Age of spec fic, has just passed away. Mind you, he lived to be 94 and was getting Hugo nominations for his fan writing in recent years! So he was at least using his time well, even if it was just fan writing.
See you beyond the stars, Fred!
My comfort reading varies. Sometimes it's Kerry Greenwood's mysteries which I almost know by heart by now. Sometimes it's Tolkien, because his "beautiful writing" really is beautiful, with its emphasis on characters you care about and journeys that matter and sometimes just the plain joy of a good meal and a pint at the pub or a luxurious bath after a long and dangerous trek.
Right now, it's Terry Pratchett, physical book chosen at random - Carpe Jugulum, the vampire sendup that was having a go at the Ann Rice style of vampire, but which ought to be compulsory reading for anyone who thinks Edward Cullen is a hunk.
Also, I have all four Tiffany Aching books on my iPad and I have just started to reread them from the beginning, with Wee Free Men. There's something wonderful about following Tiffany from the nine year old girl who loves words like sussurus to the young woman who has found her place as witch of the chalk country and, incidentally, got an intelligent boyfriend by the end of the final book.
And having read Nicola Upson's crime novel with Josephine Tey as heroine, I'm back, rereading Daughter Of Time for the umpteenth time.
You can't read new stuff when you're sick and get the best out of it. Well, I can't.
So, off to bed and on with the comfort reading.
Anyone out there got their own favourites in comfort reading?
And while I was going on about being unable to read anything new while sick, look what was waiting for me when I got home! The lovely Sonia Palmisano, publicity guru at Bloomsbury, seems to get it right, time after time, with my review copies.
Pity that one of the other publishers with which I have had a good relationship - no names! - has started offering Netgalley ARCs only, instead of books you can handle and stroke and then put on the library shelves for the kids to enjoy. I have made it clear in the past that I don't review ebooks. I have my reasons, mainly that I do this to supplement my pitiful library budget - and it seems to me that publishers who want you to publicise their product owe you at least a physical option. I know a lot of reviewers don't mind, but they should at least ask, "Will you take it as ebook or would you prefer print?" and keep a few print copies for stubborn folk like me.
Ah, well, at least when I'm recovered, I can enjoy my lovely Neil Gaiman book for younger readers, review it and then offer it to our students. :-)
My birthday brought me one book from my nephew David. It's a biography of Steve Jobs, written on request by the subject, while he was already dying. He didn't require to be shown the manuscript before publication or to have control over it. He just wanted it written.
I admit it wasn't a book I would have bought for myself, although I quite like biographies, depending on the subject - usually a historical bio of someone dead for a few hundred years, though I have read quite a few of Tolkien and C.S Lewis. But I began reading it yesterday and got through 100 pages. It's a fascinating story. Did you know he was born the same year as Bill Gates? Well, I didn't, and it's a nice way to be able to compare. I hadn't realised he was adopted either, or that he refused ever to meet his biological father, considering his adoptive parents as his real and only ones. Which is nice to know, because he gave them a lot of troubles in his childhood and teens. He wasn't a nice man, but a nice man couldn't have achieved what he did. The nice man he worked with wouldn't have gotten those wonderful computers past the hobbyists. I have left it at my mother's place,to be read in bed while I'm there, as it's a thick, heavy hardcover I can't carry in the train.
And early yesterday morning, when I couldn't sleep, I discovered, to my delight, that Poul Anderson and Gordy Dickson's Hoka stories were available on ebook. If you haven't read them, go get them NOW! The Hokas are a loveable race of ursinoids(think giant teddy bears). They simply adore Earth history and literature and enjoy playing with them. In fact, they live them. A Hoka delegation on Earth are charmed by Don Giovanni and take on all the roles, nearly causing disaster. Another bunch of Hokas become the Space Patrol of a popular children's series. On the planet itself, there are Hoka versions of everything from the French Foreign Legion to Victorian England, including a Hoka Sherlock Holmes. It's all seen from the viewpoint of Alex Jones, a young man given the job of Plenipotentiary, who keeps getting caught up in various Hoka adventures. The one I downloaded first was Earthman's Burden, but I mean to buy the others, Star Prince Charlie and Hoka!
Star Prince Charlie has a Hoka in it, but isn't set on the Hoka homeworld. A young man, Charlie, and his Hoka tutor, who is playing the role of an Oxford don, visit a world with a situation similar to Scotland in the time of Bonnie Prince Charlie and this inspires the Hoka to become a Scottish clansman, with his charge as Bonnie Prince Charlie. Delightful!
Time to arise, eat, clean and prepare classes. Sigh!
But this series has a fictional hero, Benjamin January, an African-American ex-slave who was educated by his mother's protector when he bought her and her children and freed them. He's a trained surgeon who studied and worked in Paris, but makes his living as a musician, which actually pays better, especially in 1830s New Orleans, where even the coloured community aren't comfortable with a coal-black doctor. However, he has family and friends, including policeman Abishag Shaw, a white man who wouldn't be allowed into Ben's mum's home for being so vulgar, and Irish musician Hannibal Sefton, who is suffering from consumption and plays a Stradivarius, suggesting his family background is a bit wealthier than his current poverty would suggest. (Actually, he's an aristocrat back home, as we discover in another novel). And Ben January is a first-class sleuth, for whose services people are prepared to pay.
This novel takes Ben to Washington, still a Southern city where any free black unlucky enough to be out after dark runs the risk of being kidnapped and sold, and everyone who dies runs the risk of being dug up by "resurrectionists" for sale to surgeons who want anatomy practice. A mathematician friend of his sister's protector's wife has gone missing. One of the characters is Edgar Allan Poe, who still can't make a living out of his writing and is in town looking for a job. I got the sneaking suspicion that Ben is something of an inspiration for Poe's private eye hero(he wrote the first detective fiction, long before Sherlock Holmes.)
I don't know how she does it, but somehow Barbara Hambly manages to keep up the quality even after twelve books. I pounce on these with a cry of delight as they appear and haven't yet been disappointed.
For now, let's talk about two housewives in this world. One is a witch, the other a very determined Muggle who's been throwing herself into Muggledom since she was turned down for Hogwarts.
I'm talking, of course, abut Molly Weasley and Petunia Dursley. Both are career housewives who make sure their homes are just right for their particular families, as they see it. Both love their husbands and children. Both are very good cooks.
But the differences are obvious from very early on and not just in the way they treat Harry.
You really wouldn't want to live in Petunia's house. It's sparkling clean, but only because she makes sure no one tracks mud on to her nice floor or lets anything go into the wrong place - a place for everything and everything in its place! It is the sort of home that would be showcased in Home Beautiful, but not because of its liveability. Dudley's second bedroom is a mess, full of his broken toys and unread books, but nobody sees this, so it doesn't spoil the look of her house. It's a house, not a home.
I think Dumbledore is right to say Dudley has been abused. Petunia adores him, but she lets him eat himself into obesity as well as become a bully. In the first novel, when he makes a fuss over the number of gifts he has, it's Petunia who offers to buy him two more, supporting his spoiled brat nature.
If Petunia ever did anything other than run a home, we aren't told. She relies on Vernon to make the decisions and protect the family and it's his career she supports.
Molly Weasley's home couldn't be more different. It's shabby, relaxed and comfortable. Part of this is because they don't have much money, but when the Weasleys won the Daily Prophet prize, the money was spent on a family trip, not on renovations. Family doing something special together had priority over making the house look nice.
Molly loves her family, but doesn't spoil the children. She is small, plump and kind, but heaven help the child - or husband! - who does the wrong thing. Nevertheless, however frustrated she can become with them, it's only because she loves them so much and wants their best. She knows the twins are smart and could have done better in school, but eventually accepts their dream of running a joke shop. She is proud of them all, whatever they end up choosing to do with their lives.
Her kitchen is the heart of the home; the family live there and there is where she cooks her wonderful meals, food being how she shows love. There's a rubber pot which seems able to stretch to feed however many guests they have, whether it's Harry and Hermione or all the members of the Order of the Phoenix, whom she feeds regularly in 12 Grimmauld Place.
She was a founding member herself and is still sharp with a wand, after many years of running a home.
But ultimately, Molly is a mother. Her Boggart nightmare is the death of a child. She kills evil Deatheater Bellatrix Lestrange in defence of her children, not as a warrior, though she is.
"Not my daughter, you bitch!" says it all.
View Next 25 Posts