The Horse and His Boy (revisited) and Prince Caspian.
In an earlier post I mentioned how Frankie and I had stopped partway through The Horse and His Boy because we were having trouble with the archaic language and understanding of Calormene politics and culture.
We returned to it far sooner than I expected. Frankie explained that she was enjoying the story, she just didn’t always understand what they were going on about.
So we completed the tale with a lot of paraphrasing on my part.
To be fair at the point we’d stopped, Aravis and her friend Lazaraleen are hiding behind a sofa inadvertently eavesdropping on some plotting between the Tisroc (who probably didn’t live forever) and his rancidly unpleasant son Prince Rabadash. There was an awful lot of thee-ing and thou-ing, elaborate grovelling and back stabbing going on, so I can’t blame her for getting confused.
I glossed over a certain amount and translated it to normal English (Sorry Mr Lewis – I’m sure she’ll revisit it properly when she’s ready).
I must have lived this adventure over and over when I was a kid. I so wanted my own talking horse and I still remember enduring that endless plodding, painful journey across the desert with Shasta, “Smell of hot horse, smell of hot self”. I didn’t get that this time and I doubt Frankie did either, mostly because she kept interrupting. But at least some of the questions were relevant to the book.
I’m not completely convinced how much she got out of this book, although she assures me she did like it and still talks about the characters weeks later. I hope when she’s a bit older she’ll come back to it with a better understanding. At least reading it with me she was able to ask questions and discuss what was going on.
Next up was Prince Caspian.
We were back on familiar ground here… sort of. There was some initial confusion as to what was going on because of the gradual revelations of how time had passed, but she enjoyed herself with lots of theories in the meantime.
There were a few issues with the Telmarine court language, but primed by events in the last book I blithely ad-libbed and we got past it painlessly. (I just hope Frankie doesn’t suffer with the sense of betrayal I felt on reading Jane Eyre as an adult and realised how awful the children’s abridged version had been).
Much like me at a young age, she didn’t bat an eye at the thought of four children carrying raw bear meat around in their pockets. Back then I imagined it to look like pork luncheon meat and reading this would make me fancy a sandwich. Now older and wiser, I’m more aware of what the reality and any potential repercussions would have been.
I’d also like to note that after getting past the very impressive speech by the wer-wolf in chapter twelve about how any bites needed to be cut from his victim’s body and buried with him (and believe me that took a bit of explaining), there was no mention of it at all two pages later when Caspian was bitten and Lucy’s convenient cordial was nowhere in sight. (Tut tut Mr Lewis – they wouldn’t stand for inconsistencies like that these days you know).
We had a short break after Prince Caspian, but for some reason one day I had to explain the meaning of port and starboard and before I knew it I’d pulled out the diagram in the front of Voyage of the Dawn Treader and then of course she wanted me to read the blurb on the back…
But more about that next time.