When you pick up a book titled The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia
, you probably assume it will be about one person's experience with The Chronicles of Narnia. Laura Miller fulfills that expectation to some degree, but this book is balanced between being an exploration of personal responses to Narnia and a biography of C. S. Lewis.
Miller talks to a good handful of people about Narnia and relates their responses; these bits are sprinkled throughout The Magician's Book
. That's readable enough. It's not really what I was looking for in the book, but I still enjoyed it. In the first section of the book, Miller explains how The Chronicles shaped her view of literature, and later, how her recognition of the Christian symbolism involved reshaped her view of The Chronicles, and that's sort of what I expected. I'm glad the book was not entirely about that, though, because it wasn't as fascinating as the title made me think it would be.
Where The Magician's Book
makes itself worthwhile, for me, is in the half (roughly) of the book that's devoted to C. S. Lewis's life, his motives for writing The Chronicles, and his friendship with J. R. R. Tolkien. It's somewhat dry at times -- not horribly so, just enough to be noticed -- but interesting most of the time, so I sort of half-glazed over the dry parts and still ended up learning a lot. Despite my laziest intentions!
Note: I had to return this to the library last month, so my recollection of where things are located in the book's layout may be a little fuzzy.