There’s something very comfortable and exciting about sitting down and reading a Harry Potter book. It’s a treat that you look forward to at the end of a long day alongside a hot drink and a hot-water bottle. A prize which you think about with anticipation as you are walking home in the chilly autumnal breeze. Reading this book, I felt exactly the same as Catherine from Jane Austen’s wonderful book Northanger Abbey in this quote (changed slightly!) – “While I have ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ to read, I feel as if nobody could make miserable!” Fair enough, Catherine had a weird sort of obsession with the book that she was referring to (Udolpho), but I think that this quote is really relevant to a lot of books which offer readers such comfort and enjoyment.
And Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is definitely one of these books which has reached out and delighted readers. It is sprinkled with witty humour but it also offers a poignant perspective on Harry’s unhappy life with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and Cousin, Dudley Dursly. He was adopted at birth, by the family after his parents were killed in what he was led to believe was a tragic car crash. Although Harry is at his unhappiest when he is in the company of his unpleasant adopters, I really like reading about Harry’s life at Privet Drive. I think it is the perfect contrast: a really sensible and strict household, and the fantastical life at Hogwarts.
So, it isn’t until he is eleven years old that Harry learns about Hogwarts when a flurry of letters arrive summoning him to the school. The Durslys have tried to avert him from any contact with the school, but Hogwarts are determined to communicate something to Harry. On a dark, stormy evening, the keeper of the grounds and keys of the school turns up and Harry is whisked away into a surreal and enchanting world of secrets, magic and danger.
All the components of this modern classic are absolutely spot-on. The dark humour, the twisted superstitions, and the chilling description. The storyline is quite episodic, but that’s what I love about it. Jk.Rowling introduces the reader to so many amazing aspects of a magical school – all the different lessons, Quidditch, rivalry, etc – but there is one definite storyline throughout – and that is the mystery surrounding the Philosopher’s stone.
I like reading these books in these ever-increasing dark nights, on the run-up to Halloween. I hope to read the rest of the series after reading some Halloween-themed books. Keep a look out for my Halloween posts. Thanks for reading!! 🙂