As a reader, going back to the beginning is always joyful to me. It signals the delight of the journey to come, minus the edge-of-your-seat fumbling with the unknown of a first-time reading. The Chamber of Secrets brings us full circle . . . so, despite the growth and triumph in The Sorcerer's Stone, we find Harry right back where he began. Which is not, I'm afraid, very joyful for him. Chapter 1 is a recap of the previous book, an evil necessity. I don't much like recaps but they're almost always necessary in a series, especially a children's one. But Rowling summarizes while staking out the ground for the new plot to come, so it's not bad.
For reasons yet to be revealed, Harry's friends have not kept correspondence with him over the summer as they promised. This serves two purposes, as I see it: it puts Harry right back into the darkness where he was to be found in the beginning of Book 1, with even his prospects of returning to Hogwarts thrown into uncertainty. It also highlights a particular character weakness. Masha writes that, "he never really knows where he stands in the magical world, or the hearts of his friends. He wants certainty that can’t be given in this world, he lacks trust - a faith in the goodness and consistency of those he loves. It’s sort of a common thread for Harry throughout the books. . ."
I remember writing early on about the horror of Harry's upbringing and my subdued surprise that it hadn't affected him more severely. Children raised in such a home, outside of the fictional world, would almost certainly have deep emotional wounds and problems with delinquency. Here we start to cast light into the deeps of Harry's woundedness, of which, so far, we have not much left the shallows.
I noted and took some pleasure from Harry's teasing Dudley. The words "jiggery pokery," "squiggly wiggly," and even the famous "hocus pocus" sound so ridiculous to those who, like Harry, have encountered real wizardry, lovely Latin roots and all. It's a fun elbow-nudge to the reader.
|Keith James, The Worst Birthday, source|
Jenna warns that this book is noticeably darker than the first, and both Jenna and Masha admit to a bewildering gut reaction of finding it their least favorite in the series, only to renege after having freshly finished. So we're going to see what that's all about!
In the meantime, I would love to make Aunt Petunia's pudding. I'd not had trifle before living in Britain. Its sogginess can be off-putting for some, but I like the throwing-together-the-scraps recipe. My mother-in-law makes it from leftover cake and even sweet bread. If I do make it, it won't be any sooner than the next couple of weeks.