Sunday, March 27, 2011
Many Worlds Have Come Crashing Down.
I feel as if I've lost something significant. One of my favourite authors, Diana Wynne Jones, British author recently passed away. Anything you read will tell you that she was a creative, fun woman who was adored by many. She fought a long hard battle against cancer, and lost, and it's heartbreaking that we've lost another person to this disease. In addition to that tragedy, it is heartbreaking to remember that Diana Wynne Jones was a very prolific author, and she wrote imaginative, fascinating books, and she is no longer around to write them. Not only has a wonderful human being left this earth, but I feel as if many, many worlds have come crashing down.
My father gave me my first Diana Wynne Jones book Charmed Life many years ago, and I was swept into a world of the unforgettable enchanter Chestomanci, creative magic, unexpected plot twists, and one girl who I still think of as one of the most insidious villains I've ever read about. Chrestomanci was the standout character for me, and I think Ms. Jones liked him too. He figured in several more books over the years: a debonair, dry witted enchanter who knew how to dress, and could pull off a vague, absent minded persona to disarm his enemies. Many of Ms. Jones' books featured Chrestomanci as a primary or secondary character. Besides him, what I treasured most were the elements in the books which brought to light the inner life of this character. It's something akin to being a fan of a celebrity or historical figure and eagerly tallying up all the fascinating details of their lives because they interest you so much. Great authors create characters like that. Part of my sadness stems from the fact that we won't be learning more about Chrestomanci, his family and his friends any more. Sure other authors may write and speculate, but Ms. Jones' vision is the true one for me, and it's gone with her. Forever.
The only small comfort fans may draw from this is that Ms. Jones' passing may introduce her books to people who've never read her before. That's one of the joys of reading and discussing with fellow readers isn't it? Will other people new to Jones think she's just as good or better than J.K. Rowling. (I think she's better, more engaging and mind boggling with her creativity.) Will others be looking out for the cats in her stories? (It's almost inevitable that a cat will figure in Jones' stories, often as an important part of the plot. Even if you don't like cats, you can end up being fascinated like me at how well she captures "catty" personalities.) Will others fall in love with Howl's Moving Castle? (One of her most popular novels from what I see. It was made into a well received film by acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, a fact which delights me when I think of how imagination and creativity can reach out and link people across cultures.)
One thing I am sure of is that new readers and fans will be disappointed that Jones is no longer around to build her worlds and develop them. This fact will always sadden me, but I will try to keep in mind that like all authors she left her works behind her, and this means that they will never disappear forever nor can they be destroyed. She was able to achieve what all writers long for: immortality through her work. I hope that this can bring some small comfort to her family and friends. I know none of my small, shallow feelings about her passing can even come close to their sensations at her loss. We will all miss you terribly Ms. Diana Wynne Jones, each in our own way.
Check out her bibliography if you want to get to know her too.