Wed, Jun. 29th, 2005, 01:04 am || Jones, Diana Wynne - Howl's Moving Castle

add to memories

Before being all stately and pretend-dignified, I shall express my true feelings about the book first: SQUEE!!! *hugs book close* I loved it so much, and I adore Sophie and Howl and the green slime and everything! I am very glad I reread it after the movie, because I feel it would have rather ruined the movie for me.

Sophie is the eldest of three daughters in the land of Ingary, where there are such things as witches, wizards and seven-league boots, and as such, she is doomed to failure. Obviously, the youngest is the luckiest, according to all fairy tale wisdom. Er, I am feeling the urge to go into exclamation points and capital letters and much fangirling, but I shall spare you all and instead just say that I adore, adore, adore the narrative voice of this book, which is wry, succinct and incredibly enjoyable. Anyhow, more plot summarizing: Sophie ends up being turned into an old lady after she somehow ends up on the wrong side of the Witch of the Waste, but instead of being a burden, Sophie finds that her great age has freed her from her general expections of mediocrity as the eldest of three. She ends up in Howl's gargantuan moving castle, befriends a fire demon, has fun with spells, and untangles a great deal of messes. She also cleans a lot.

I love Sophie. Absolutely adore. She's a little dull in the beginning, not boring, but dull, because she is doomed to failure, and she is quite resigned to her fate. And I am not saying that I find her dull, but that DWJ is extremely good at portraying Sophie's frame of mind. And as such, when Sophie becomes an old woman, she is the most crochety old woman ever. I love her. To bits. Even though she would probably grumble at me and possibly thwack me to get the haplessly laughing me out of her way. I get coffeeandink's post on the book and movie (possible spoilers for both in comments) now and the core of the book being the importance of expectations, of stories being told over and over and the way people cage themselves. Because Sophie has been so accumstomed to thinking of herself as having no fortune or luck, when she turns into an old lady, I think she ends up just sort of shrugging her shoulders. She's still the oldest, yes, but as an old lady, no one's expectations can really apply to her now, and so she goes off and does what she wants to, and has quite a lot of fun doing it. And I have quite a lot of fun reading about it.

I also adore Howl, who is, as Sophie puts it, a "slitherer-outer" and a womanizer and a coward and a kind man, all at once. I love his arguments with Sophie, and the constant battle of wills between the two, not as a hostile bit, but as a measure of each other's stubbornness. And he is the vainest person on the face of the earth, and oh, how I love him for it. And I like that DWJ lets Howl be Howl, that she doesn't try to prettify him in the reader's eyes or try to make him more heroic or palatable. Howl's got a lot of flaws, the most notable being his continual running away from things; it's no coincidence that the book is titled after his constantly moving castle.

And even if the book hadn't already won me over by Sophie making the castle stop and let her in, it would have simply by having a chapter titled "In Which Howl Expresses His Feelings With Green Slime."

***brief break while I laugh hysterically, because... green slime!***

Erm, sorry. consonantia can attest to the fact that I find very weird things extremely giggle inducing.

Anyway, this is in no way a coherent review, except that I loved this, I loved the characters, I loved how everything came together and Howl's past and the wonderful, wonderful dynamic between Sophie and Howl, who very obviously need to be thrown together often.

I shall not, however, be re-reading Castle in the Air soon, because I am deeply in love with this book and I remember Howl and Sophie not taking place so prominently in that one. I need to giggle more to myself more.

I think a post on the book and the movie, now that both are in my head, shall be forthcoming.

*snerk* Green slime!

Links:
- rilina's review
- tenemet's review