Is it possible to be addicted to nostalgia?

A little before Christmas I remembered The Box of Delights. I’d only known it as a TV show, on air in 1984 (when I was eight, so I remember the special effects as utterly magical, and viewing it now would likely be crushingly disappointing) but found the book on the library list, and ordered it. It took a little while to arrive, and so started reading it at new year, so not quite as much as a Christmassy treat as I’d hoped.

Here is the carol symphony that went with the opening credits, which is what made me think of it in the first place. Totally not appropriate for January, but it is lovely.

Although I’ve not seen the TV version since I was eight, scenes in the book bring back the show. The old man will always be Patrick Troughton to me, and the awful Abner Brown, Robert Stephens.


Now, here should follow three long paragraphs of me pointing out the obvious differences between historical fiction and period writing. I deleted them, as I can sum it up in a lot less by saying I’d wanted a cosy 1930s boys-with-camel-dressing-gowns and girls-with-bobs, and all the Enid Blyton steam train and duffel coat magic, but Masefield wasn’t writing for 41 year old women in 2018. The book is full of action and dialogue, and only the occasional mention of a toasting fork, because kids in the 30s didn’t want to hear about their own clothes and their own trains. The writing is understandably dated, Kay does a lot of thinking to himself in great detail. And, it’s not a slim book, nearly 400 pages, but I did enjoy it as I had enough reference points to picture the scenes myself, just as we all do when reading Tolstoy, Austen, etc.




Next up on the will-it-be-as-good-as-I-remember-it-was-on-the-TV-series list is The Children of Green Knowe, which I’ve also ordered from the library. Some of you are trying to limit your book purchases, like Sarah did last year and MadameBibilophile is doing this year. I doff my Herne-style antlers to any of you attempting this. I’m not made of such strong stuff, but have decided to check the library list before immediately purchasing a book from now on, as a goodwill gesture to my bank account and living space.