Synopsis: Jadis and Andrew go into London. Jadis steals a horse-drawn cab and causes mayhem.
When I was younger, I didn’t understand so well the way that Andrew’s ridiculous thoughts about the Queen being attracted to him only appeared when she was not present. I think I understand better now. Reality often disrupts and corrects our happy daydreams – what we’ll say to the boss, how we’ll deal with a situation, how we’ll be received etc. – when the time actually comes for action. Things don’t play out the way we imagined them in our heads.
Why didn’t the Queen’s magical powers work in London? Does magic need to be near a source or place of origin? How does she later manage to perform magic in Narnia, such as generating the enchanted winter? Do different worlds have different rules?
I’d forgotten about the (secretly thrilled) housemaid. There are lots of little comic touches throughout this book. When I think of the other stories, they have light moments but I suspect that MN might be the most comedic. I don’t know why this might be. Maybe Lewis was feeling happier at this time in his life. Maybe it stemmed from him writing about a different time period. Maybe it just fitted his idea for the story.
I was always puzzled by Aunt Letty’s mattress mending. I suppose it’s another thing you don’t really see these days. What were mattresses like then?
The description of the house – ‘It was one of those houses that get very quiet and dull in the afternoon and always seem to smell of mutton’ – reminds me of two things. Firstly, the description of Bill Door’s visit to Miss Flitworth’s parlour in Pratchett’s ‘Reaper Man’, and secondly, the memory of visits to numerous houses which belonged to friends of my Grandma.
Digory’s hope – and his fear that the hope might be dashed – for his mother’s recovery surely reflects the young Lewis’ emotions as he watched his own mother’s health deteriorating from cancer.
Jadis’ ability to ride on the top of the hansom ‘with perfect balance’ impressed the young me.
Cruelty to animals and a disregard for their welfare is often an indicator of a ‘baddie’ in the Chronicles.
What did Jadis whisper in the horse’s ear?
As I mentioned earlier in my re-read (in VDT) I don’t really enjoy Lewis’ ‘accented’ voices. This is true of the ‘cockneys’ in the crowd here (‘Gor! Ain’t she strong then!’ etc.) It just feels awkward to me.
‘Womfle – pomfy – shomf’ (used to denote someone speaking through a damaged top hat) is probably my favourite ever mixture of nonsense words and onomatopoeia.
The first time we meet the Cabby, we are given plenty of clues as to his personality and nature. He is clearly worried about others, including the horse itself. He’s calm in a strange and dangerous situation. Despite Jadis having destroyed his means of making a living, he is kind and gently spoken towards her, trying to convince her to calm down.