Do you know, I don’t think the Wicked Witch of the West ever said these words together in a sentence – not in the Judy Garland version of Oz anyway. I’ve never read the book so, I’m not sure where it comes from.
I love the Wizard of Oz. I always have. Its the perfect dream-away story for little girls (let’s not mention the mind-numbingly terrifying Return to Oz though). So what has made me write about it today? Maybe because I have been watching BBC 1’s search for Dorothy? Or maybe because I have been thinking about my Cie and her “Ruby Shoesday” endeavour (she plans to wear red shoes every Tuesday!)? Or, it might have more to do with the fact that I remembered another book to add to yesterday’s Book Pile!
A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire, is -I believe – the third in a set of books devised and devoted to the land of Oz. You are probably all aware of Wicked by the same author, which now provides the West End with one of its more miraculous musicals. But what you might not know, is that there is a sequel, Son of a Witch and then the book I have already mentioned. What you might not also know is that the hard back editions are so damn pretty!
If I could find a way of displaying the front covers without ever needing to dust them, I would. I could have these, easily, as prints in my house – granted they would probably have to be resigned to my work room, but I would love them nonetheless.
It was my Cie that bought me each of these, in her kindness and her wisdom – along with tickets to see Wicked in London a couple of years ago. The reason, however, that I have not actually read A Lion Among Men yet, is that they are fairly hard going. They are not the prettiness of the original work, no little girl’s fairy tales in these pages. It is the real world of Oz which is exposed, in all its adult intrigue. They are truly fascinating, but I often actually think of them as ‘boys fiction’ – they are heavy with politics. It is entirely possible to draw parallels with our non-fiction world and the politics of the big countries who reign, but lets not think of that. To do this, for me, is to bog down the story. The traumatic pages are bound in such pretty covers that I intend to keep the real world far from them. Remembering this is an imaginary place, where once hope was in abundance, is vital – to me – in keeping Oz close to my heart. You transpose it into, for example (!), an American world, then the essence is lost.
They are gripping stories, but because of the above, I do find them difficult to follow. I made the mistake of reading the first two books back-to-back without a light hearted break. I enjoyed them immensely, but I was exhausted entirely by the closing pages of Son of a Witch. So, Lion has sat, unopened, but shining beautifully down at me – as it does so now. But I think it might be time to venture once more into the wonderful land of Oz and all its intrigue and dishevelled beauty. After the closing 60 pages of The Scarlet Letter, I think I will carefully avoid toppling the book pile, and instead reach for the high shelf and on tip-toes recover this stunning book with a hope of greatness inside.
Beautiful books should be read and their contents allowed to fly. Don’t disappoint them – enjoy them.