“ Author: Diana Wynne Jones / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 05 August 2010 / Genre: Children's Fantasy & Magical Realism / Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers / Title: Enchanted Glass / ISBN 13: 9780007320806 / ISBN 10: 0007320806 / Alternative EAN: 9780007320783 „
They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but I have to confess it was the cover of this book that attracted my attention to it when I was browsing in the library. It is a picture of a colourful, stained glass window. I have always loved stained glass, so I was intrigued. The idea of an enchanted stained glass window appealed to me and there is a beautiful description of this early in the book. It really captured my imagination and made me want to find out more.
"Andrew loved that coloured glass. As a boy, he had spent fascinated hours looking at the garden through each different-coloured pane. Depending, you got a rose-pink sunset garden, hushed and windless; a stormy orange garden where it was suddenly autumn; a tropical green garden, where there seemed likely to be parrots and monkeys any second. And so on. As an adult now, Andrew valued that glass even more. Magic apart, it was old, old, old. ...If a piece of that glass had broken or even cracked, Andrew's heart would have cracked with it."
Andrew Hope, a middle aged academic and a bit of a loner, inherits Melstone House on the death of his magician grandfather. On moving in, Andrew's intention is to lead a quiet life, writing his book and keeping himself to himself. However, Andrew not only inherits the house but also the 'field of care' - the magical zone, which surrounds it, and this brings with it a big responsibility, because he discovers that magic is a great power that has to be used with care. As one of the neighbours puts it: "All round here, in a radius of 10 miles or more, is strange. And special."
Just when Andrew is trying to get to grips with his grandfather's endless paperwork and his argumentative household staff, a runaway orphan called Aidan Cane turns up at his house. Aidan claims to have been pursued by Stalkers since the death of his grandmother and he has escaped to the magician's house in order to find protection.
Although Andrew spent a lot of time with his grandfather when he was a child, he is unable to remember much about it and certainly any magic skills he was taught are now rather rusty. However, Andrew and Aidan become friends and discover that they share similar magical powers, which they explore together. They also resolve to find out more about the mysteries surrounding Melstone House and realise that one particular neighbour, Mr Brown, has sinister intentions.
For anyone who loves folklore and fantasy, this book is a delight. Although it is a magical book, it is more quirky than dark. A variety of magical concepts are woven into the plot, including a friendly giant that eats unwanted vegetables, a were-dog, a magic wallet, a protective charm necklace, a man with an invisible leg, a woman who uses the horse racing results as an oracle, counterpart folk (people who resemble those who belong in another realm) and of course the enchanted glass of the title.
There are some wonderful characters in this book. I particularly loved the housekeeper, Mrs Stocks, who is forever moving the furniture around, just to annoy Andrew, and punishes him by cooking cauliflower cheese. The gardener who grows massive, inedible vegetables also made me laugh. (His obsession with winning prizes at the country fete had a touch of Wallace & Gromit - The Case of the Were Rabbit about it.) I found the friendship between Andrew and Aidan interesting because it enables the story to be told from the perspective of both a child and a middle-aged man. I enjoyed seeing Andrew develop from being rather dusty and emotionally stunted at the start of the book to a more passionate character, who fights for what he believes in and forms an almost fatherly bond with Aidan. He also falls in love with the beautiful Stashe. (I found Andrew and Stashe's romance a touch incredible in terms of how quickly things developed between them, but perhaps that was part of the magical ambience of Melstone House, and a hallmark of their eccentricity!)
Would I recommend it?
Definitely. It manages to be both a fantasy and a comedy at the same time, which I think is a commendable achievement. The magical world of mythological creatures and spells is juxtaposed with a down-to-earth world of cauliflower cheese, vegetable competitions and quarrelling household staff. It makes for a tale that is humorous and also very English, as Melstone could be any English village, with its proud, outspoken and peculiar residents. The ending was very unexpected with a neat twist and the potential for sequels. I think this book would be suitable for adults and children (albeit older ones) alike, because older readers will identify with Andrew and young ones will identify with Aidan. Although I initially did judge the book on its cover, I was delighted to find that the story lived up to my expectations and was every bit as colourful as the picture on the front.
Enchanted glass is the newest book by Diana Wynne Jones and is one of many fantastic childrens books by this wonderful British writer. I am quite a Diana Wynne Jones fan and this book certainly didn't disappoint. For any other fans reading it you will find it alike to her other books as it too has her usual mix of magic and reality and how both affects a child's world, the story is also intriguing but easy to read.
When Andrews grandfather dies he inherits his old house and everything hat goes with it. So he leaves his job at the near by university and moves into the house which he spent a lot of time in as a child. He decides to keep things pretty much as they are whilst he takes his time off from teaching to write a book. However, he must contend with the housekeeper and gardener who both seem to have their own ideas for the house, be it keeping the piano in a dusty old corner where it's too dark too play it or doing nothing but grow vegetables big enough to win world records and let the rest of the garden fend for itself. Things change when a young boy, Aiden, turns up in the hopes that Andrews grandfather is still in residence, his grandmother has always advised him that he could always be of help, and Andrew is being followed by three groups of people, aliens, monster, who knows what. Andrew and Aiden both know that Andrews grandfather was very good at magic and looked after the area around the house, his 'field of care', but none of them know too much about either things. When Andrews land seems to be being taken over by a very rude and strange neighbour they decide that something has to be done, the field of care must be explored and they must find out what Andrews grandfather intended for him and the village. They know something weird is going on when they find the faces of the people they know in the enchanted glass in the kitchen door and in the garden shed, but with weredogs and giants to distract them, will they find out what it all means before it's too late?
This book, like all of Wynn Jones books, has just the right mixture of magic, and a world that children can relate too. The story gets a bit complicated at times and there are parts that i had to re-read as i wasn't totally sure what had just happened. However, it is never boring, is quite fast paced but then does go in-depth enough into enough characters and into the plot, saying that it certainly is never bogged down. It's quite a quick read, which isn't a bad thing, and is quite a page turner and you find yourself dying to know what exactly is going on and how everything will fit together in the end.
Aiden and Andrew are certainly the main characters. Aiden is a very likeable young boy who you can certainly sympathise with and route for. Andrew is a bit of a weird character, it's a bit strange having quite an ordinary 'grown up' so important in the plot and to me he's not overly likeable, but this isn't too bad, he does help move the story along well and is a good support for Aidens character. There are a couple of supporting characters that I didn't like very much, I just know that if they were anything like real people I wouldn't be able to stand being in the same room as them! And it's kind of annoying how Andrew deals with them, I can't stand reading books when you're just wanting someone to stand up for themselves, but luckily this is not what the story is focused on. There are some characters that aren't in the book very much which i really thought were great. Diana Wynne Jones writes magical creates and bad guys very well and in this book she has worked her magic yet again.
This is a book which I think most young children would like, or perhaps like to be read. As an adult I always like it as I like the worlds and characters Wynne Jones creates, something mostly like ours but a little bit off, I can imagine a lot of children imaging the world as she sees it. This is yet another Diana Wynne Jones book that I have been very glad to have read.