dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #238

Gili Bar-Hillel abhillel at hotmail.com
Thu Oct 26 07:07:59 EDT 2000

Thank you for all the birthday wishes, and a belated happy birthday to you, 
too, Laurie and Ros and all! (I'm sure there are probably others on this 
list with recent birthdays...)

Now I know one more person who shares my birthday, other than John Lithgow, 
another Gili who used to go to my school, and my second cousin once removed 
David whose mother shares my mother's birthday.

The "places in-between" discussion is begining to remind me of the "who's 
cribbing discussion", as we did bring up this same exact topic in almost the 
same exact way just about two weeks ago... but nice to know more of you 
share these thoughts. And I tremendously enjoyed reading what DWJ had to say 
about Narnia, it fit in very well with our discussion.

I eventually picked up the parcel from the post on Sunday, and it was NOT 
"Year of the Griffin". Though that really ought to have arrived by now. This 
book is eluding me. Quite a few weeks ago one of the big literary agencies 
in Israel shipped a carton of books to my publishing house - they do this 
once a month or so, and it's one of my jobs to open and catalog the books. 
There was a shipping list inside and you can imagine how I tore through that 
pile of books when I saw "The Dark Lord of Derkholm" and "Year of the 
Griffin" both listed! This was before the official release date and I kept 
saying to myself "I love this job, I love this job!" and how I would email 
this list and try to delicately not quite gloat while dancing a jig of joy. 
But when I got to the bottom of the pile, it was "Tough Guide to 
Fantasyland" after all, and not "Year of the Griffin" at all. The agents 
made a mistake on the list. So that was the first disspointment.

And then, since Amazon notified us eons ago that YOtG had finally been 
shipped, and I knew there was a parcel of books waiting for me at the post 
office, I was absolutely certain that was it. But it wasn't - the parcel 
contained two books from a very dear friend who sent them as wedding gifts 
(with an apology that they were really more for me than for Hemmy, my 
husband). One of the books was Gregory Maguire's "Wicked", which I've read 
of course, with my Oz interest. A book I wish I liked but I really, really 
didn't. In fact I've written two horrible reviews of it, one for "The Baum 
Bugle" a few years ago, and one for "Ha'aretz" recently when it came out in 
Hebrew. But I wish I liked it as Gregory Maguire strikes me as the sort of 
person I would like, with a sincere interest in children's literature, 
intelligent - and he was terribly nice once when we both spoke together on 
the same radio program, even though I imagine he knew about the review. I 
was so glad he was speaking on the phone and not sitting in the studio with 
me, which would have been immensely awkward. So, "Wicked" was a good pick 
subject-wise, but not in other respects...

The second book, however, was a whole different story. I just finished 
reading it and it was utterly delicious, I'm sure many of you would LOVE it 
if you haven't read it yet - "I Capture the Castle" by Dodie Smith. Such a 
wonderful book. It was reprinted recently, so I've picked up, because 
J.K.Rowling said in an interview it was one of her favorites. Good for her! 
Now I'm desperate to read her other novels (except of course the Dalmation 
books which I read and loved a long time ago - moreso "101 Dalmations" than 
"The Twilight Barking" but still) and her plays, but they are all out of 
print. Sigh. Such a pity the success of Disney's film seems to have eclipsed 
anything else she'd done... I didn't even know Dodie Smith WROTE any other 

I've never thought to compare "The Twilight Barking" with "Dogsbody". I'm 
sure they bear comparison. I only vaguely remember "THe Twilight Barking" - 
I'll have to reread it now.

So, no "Year of the Griffin" yet, but "I Capture the Castle" was good enough 
to almost compensate for the dissapointment. Highly recommended.

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