The magic of JK Rowling

“It’s the books that you read when you’re young that live with you forever.”

                      – J.K. Rowling

It is funny that the quote above by JK Rowling sums up exactly how I feel about her as an author. She is a literary genius – I adore the way she writes and the way she tells her stories. Harry Potter has been the single most influential series of my childhood and into my adult life. I don’t remember anything else having such an impact the way that series has.

There isn’t one particular thing that I can put my finger on that describes the way I feel about the Harry Potter series. Perhaps it is the way JK has so eloquently described the purest friendships, the greatest loves, acts of bravery and courage and the hair-raising adventures that occur so frequently. Or maybe is it the way she shines the light on our darkest fears, our insecurities and our pain. Her care and sympathy for the under-dog is rather endearing too.

There are so many profound moments in the seven books where you just have to stop and take a moment. It is both beautiful and heartbreaking; there have been so many nights of sitting up in bed in the wee hours of the morning sobbing uncontrollably or shaking with excitement or anger so badly that it was impossible to hold onto the book. Being immersed in the world of Harry Potter is such a roller coaster of emotions that even now, every time I re-read one of the books I have the same overwhelming rush of emotion. It is a place of pure joy. There is nothing else to it!

I was so excited when I heard that JK had a new book coming out, a grown up novel. There was so much discussion about this one; how could the author of Harry Potter possibly write anything else? The pressure on her must have been immense. I was working in the bookstore at the time it was released; it was a Thursday evening and the boxes were not to be opened until 5pm. I grabbed the first book out and bought it immediately. Later that night I started it with great anticipation… And oh boy, we were not in Hogwarts anymore. The Casual Vacancy is set in a small fictitious town called Pagford, a vile place filled with abusive and narrow-minded people. It was a complete shock to the system; gone were the tales of bravery and adventure and instead they were replaced with the caged horrors of a small town and all that it entails (I am not, of course, suggesting that all small towns are like this) and the struggles of a lower class society. It took me a long time after finishing it to decide how I felt about the story The Casual Vacancy told. There were many times when I felt uncomfortable with the content I was reading but at the end of the day, I applaud JK for stepping outside of a well-worn comfort zone and trying something new. The Casual Vacancy is certainly not for everyone.

The next surprise came when we found out JK had sneakily used a nom de plume to publish another book! There was suddenly a worldwide scramble for everyone to get his or her hands on this book. It was the familiarity in her writing that eventually gave her away; her commentary on journalism, the paparazzi and the pressures of celebrity life feature in all of her books. It was also noted by several critics that the ‘debut’ work had an unusual confidence and professionalism about it. The Cuckoo’s Calling is the beginning of a crime series, returning to the era of detectives like Poirot, Marple and Holmes instead of the usual cop-showesque feel. For someone who seems to enjoy a high body count, JK seems to have chosen a genre she is well suited too.  Having just finished The Silkworm, I am even more certain that she is enjoying writing crime as much as I enjoy reading it.

JK Rowling is a formidable storyteller who could, and I imagine will, tackle anything she sets her mind too. I cannot wait for what comes next.

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11 thoughts on “The magic of JK Rowling

  1. In 1973 I was home from school sick for several days. I was already a massive devourer of books but over those three or four days I read The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, A mystery book called The Monkey on the Red Rose. And the Childrens edition of Reach for the Sky, the biography of Douglas Bader. They all had a profound influence on me especially the Douglas Bader book. That book showed a 10 year old that there were no limits on how we lived our life. Bader was a man who even by todays standards would be considered disabled. He had his legs amputated and still became a great fighter pilot in the RAF. I still have those original copies of those books.

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      • Yes I am rereading the adult copy of Reach for The Sky at the moment because the other night the movie was on late night T.V. and today is the 74th Anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain. I re read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe a few years ago after reading two old interviews with its author C.S. Lewis where he mentioned that the novels were allegorious to two significant events. They being the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in the main instance and in the second Narnia’s eternal winters brought on by the curse of the witch were a metaphor of the darkness overcoming Europe with the occupation of most of it by the Nazis. The children were the “allies” who restored all the seasons to Narnia as the Allied forces did to Europe. I haven’t read The Monkey on the Red Rose for about ten years but I will again now after concluding Reach for the Sky. I also have bought a reissue of My Brother Jack the Australian classic by George Johnson.
        One other book that I first read as a teen and to this day is my favourite book of all time is the Australian novel “The Shiralee” by Darcy Niland. It is a brilliant novel of the burden ( Shiralee is Australian slang for a burden)a man has been given of looking after his daughter after he discovers his wife is having an affair. It is a novel of struggle love and redemption and the inherent goodness of man. I cannot recommend the book enough. Darcy by the way was the husband of the great Australian novelist Ruth Park (Poor Mans Orange) Thanks for your interest.

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        • No, thank you Patrick. Despite the fact that we have completely different reading interests, I love that your passion for reading is evident in the way you speak about what you read. You have a knowledge that differs from my own and I find it fascinating.

          For some unknown reason, I flat out refused to read the Narnia Chronicles when I was a child. It was not until earlier this year that I purchased a box set of all seven titles… although they are still sitting unread on my bookshelf. I am also not overly well versed in Australian literature. They are all on the never ending ‘to be read’ list. One day….

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          • Every country has its great literature, its great writers. Australia has been blessed with amazing writers in the past and now. The fact that for the majority of our existence over the past 200 odd years our literature has its genesis in the English language and culture has shaped that. The other thing that does is make the indigenous stories and history stretching back tens of thousands of years accessible to us. I really enjoy a good story. That can come from anywhere. I love the great American authors like Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Steinbeck, Arthur Miller just to name a few. I enjoy a broad taste in my reading.

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  2. The Casual Vacancy was just awful. Hated the characters, hated the plot. Struggled to finish it and would not recommend it to anyone.

    Harry Potter series on the other hand was just brilliant. Wish I had JK Rowling’s imagination

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    • It was difficult read. I tried to warn everyone that I sold it to that it was VERY different to Harry Potter. I remember one lady wanted to buy it for her 13 year old daughter. I nearly had a heart attack!

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  3. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to read the Cuckoo’s Calling (which is on my book club list for later this year), worried that it would spoil HP for me, and especially because I am generally not a huge fan of crime as a genre. However, I am looking forward to it now having read your comments Bookkat and also after hearing the positive reviews of the Silkworm coming out at the moment 🙂

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    • I can honestly say that reading The Cuckoo’s Calling made me love HP more. And if you read it really closely, there are little HP-isms everywhere! There is a little bit if HP in everything she writes! It’s what I would class as light crime… Only because it is more about the characters and the detective work. I really hope you like it!

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