Friday, 7 August 2009

IN PRAISE OF HP

It has been quite a few years now since I first took the plunge. It was in Stansted Airport. I was wandering around WH Smith bookshop looking for something new to read (which is just as well as they don't sell used books!). You can tell how long ago it was by the fact that the book I had in mind wasn't at that stage in the adult book section but was instead just in the kiddies section. And it had a very childish looking cover. However I was intrigued so I picked it up and took it to the pay counter. I must have looked a trifle uncomfortable buying a children's book. The person serving me looked at me and said "you'll enjoy that, its a great read". So, before all the hysteria and hype, I read my first Harry Potter book. And I was hooked!

So why am I writing this now? Well I've just spent a thoroughly enjoyable few days rereading the Harry Potter 6 and 7 novels. I've enjoyed them more the second time of reading than the first - and I really enjoyed them the first time round. I was prompted to reread them after reading film reviews of the latest Harry Potter film. Despite being a great fan of the books I've only seen one of the films (the first one) and I was disappointed with it. The magical fantasies and wizardry images that seem so real and believable inside one's mind whilst reading the books instead seem rather ridiculous on the big screen. Is it just me? I can imagine someone flying on a broomstick or doing magic with a wand quite sensibly in my head but on the screen it just looks well...rather ridiculous.

But back to the books. I cannot praise too highly the cleverness and complexity of the plot and how everything fits so neatly together over 3,000 pages and 7 novels. I just sit back in total wonder and amazement at how JK Rowling can have ever been so inspired as to create this story. The characters, the imagery, the humour, the drama, the whole magical world that is Harry Potter.

You may be wondering why I just reread HP 6 and 7 rather than start again at the beginning. Well having read the film reviews I was tempted to go along and see the new film of the 6th novel so I thought that before going along I would reread the book of that film. Having got quickly through book 6 I just had to go on and reread book 7. Previously, on first reading them I had had to wait a full year between those two books. Perhaps reading them back-to-back is the reason for my even greater enjoyment the second time round?

Having read them again and finally this morning putting down HP7 on completion, I realised that there was no way that I could spoil the fantastic imagery I had in my head by going to see the film.

If you are Harry Potter fans I'd really like your take on how you think the books and films compare. I'm interested to know if my regular readers are fans or whether the whole thing leaves any of you cold. And finally, if despite the hype and hysteria over the years, you've never read the books then I do thoroughly recommend them to you. There is a world of difference from the earlier books to the later ones but together they make up a story that is truly in a class of its own.

18 comments:

HelenMHunt said...

I've never read any of the books or seen any of the films. I think the whole thing has passed me by really. I'll probably read the books in ten years when the fuss has died down!

Elaine said...

I'm with Helen. I haven't read the books either, which surprises me because I read absolutely everything.

DJ Kirkby said...

Adore the books but the movies terrify me.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

I'm intrigued by them. I tried reading the first one but didn't get very far. I may have another go some time. They've even been translated into Latin!

Thanks for your comments over at mine, Troy. Much appreciated!

Troy said...

Helen - you will enjoy them in 2019!

Elaine - well you've got a ten year start on Helen if you move quickly.

DJ - glad you love the books but I'm puzzled why the films have that affect on you.

Hadriana - give it another go with the English language version.

Ladybird World Mother said...

Oh how I wish I could tell you that I have read them all, and how much I love them. Have a complete block where Harry P is concerned. Cannot for the life of me get it. But on your recommendation, and because you make me laugh, might actually haul out a tome from my son's bedroom and have a go. Should find out what its all about, really, shouldn't I.

cheshire wife said...

I read the post title with interest. I thought that this might be a post about HP sauce!

I have only read book 1 and seen the film of it, but some time apart. I enjoyed them both and did not worry too much about how faithful the film was to the book. I must read the other books when I can find the time. Hopefully sooner than 2019.

Troy said...

LWM - I think the world is split between those that "get it" and those that don't. I'm absolutely surprised that the vast majority of my readers (sample size 6 at time of writing!) like yourself aren't avid HP fans. I'm wondering if the people who don't get HP also don't like the Pullman trilogy (Golden Compass etc) and The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings books?

CW - I used "HP" as I didn't want to get loads of hits from people googling Harry Potter. I do also like HP Sauce - it is my favourite brown sauce with a magical taste.
If you enjoyed book 1 you'll enjoy the rest.

Valerie said...

I'm with Helen too. Haven't read the books or seen the films but I guess Ms Rowling has to be congratulated for capturing audiences far and wide ... of all ages. Glad you're getting so much enjoyment out of her books, it's good to be able to latch on to something that holds your interest.

John Woodman said...

Thanks to Troy I bought books 1 and 2 to take on a holiday a few years ago - and loved them. Book 3 had then been published, so I could buy that when I got home, but JK then had the discourtesy to get married and have a baby before completing 4. Finally, she did and in my view the books got better.

I have seen all the films; I thought 1 and 2 brilliantly portrayed the books on film, 3 and 4 were less successful and 5 was plotless. The latest film is excellent.

The good news is its now legal to fancy Hermione.

Troy said...

Valerie - JK Rowling must be one of our country's best overseas earners. Her sales figures are unbelievable - and this despite so many people here not having read her.

John - that's what friends are for!
Emma Watson is looking great on the adverts for Burberry and she looked nice, albeit young, on Jonathan Ross's show. I think Dr Neil got himself a good catch with JK, who is quite a looker herself, although I was extremely disappointed to discover she is a Gordon Brown supporting socialist.

bantambabe said...

I've never read HP but loved Lord of the Rings, so will I like HP?

Troy said...

bantambabe - hello there and thanks for leaving a comment. Both LotR and HP are fantasy tales but in many ways they are very different. The later books are quite different in flavour to the earlier ones. I would be surprised if you didn't enjoy HP but that's just a very subjective view.
I've got the three LorR DVDs but have never got passed watching half of the first film. Read the books years ago.

You will certainly find reading HP much better than listening to The Bantams being beaten 5-0 on the radio!

Catharine Withenay said...

In contrast to most of your commentators, I have read all 7 books avidly (not seen all the films, but partly blame 4 years in Zambia for that). I am now reading them again with our son (aged 8) and getting very cross when he goes off and reads chapters by himself. How am I supposed to follow it all when that happens?!

Troy said...

Catharine - I'm glad some HP fans have also left comments. 8 years old seems young to start HP, won't some of the later books give him nightmares? I was going to wait until Troy Junior reached 10.

Catharine Withenay said...

Ah, yes. We've had a long pause after book 3. Book 4 is quite dark, from memory. However, he's still very keen to read it and has nearly read the 10 other books we put in as a stop-gap. We'll take it easy and stop if there's any problems.

(And you could take your 8 y-o on safari. We managed it at all ages from 10 months to 6 y-o!!) (And the Vic Falls are fab!)

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Troy: I will definitely give them a go. Rowling does intrigue me. I nearly went to Exeter Uni and she may have been in the same year as me (Modern Languages and all that). Instead I served pints to Adrian Chiles at my Uni. I was more solvent then than I am now!!! Sigh. Happy days.

Sir Bruin said...

I have read all 7 books (really must buy them this time as I would like to re-read them)and seen the 6 films. I enjoyed both formats. For me, it helped to have read the books first as I was able to mentally fill the gaps that inevitably occur when films are made of books. Good escapist fun, methinks.