Well, if it’s September, I must be deep into Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring again. I don’t know when this habit first started, but every fall when the leaves begin to turn, I get the desire to revisit the shire and all the familiar characters I’ve come to know and love. Silly, maybe. It’s like a reunion of sorts. I don’t always finish the book - sometimes I just want a taste. If the story world weren’t so real, I wouldn’t even have the desire to return there.
On Facebook this week, I saw a post that J.K. Rowling had secretly completed 75% of a new book she’d been working on in the Harry Potter series. People were ecstatic! The article explained that she was dissatisfied with her lukewarm reception into adult fiction and was returning to juvenile fiction. According to Snopes, it was all a big hoax which first debuted on April Fool’s Day. How disappointing for Harry Potter fans who wanted just a little bit more time with Harry or just one more adventure.
I don’t know about you, but in order for me to become so invested in a place and characters that I revisit them time and again, several things have to take place:
· The character must be likable and earn my respect
· The character’s desired outcome must be worthy of my investment
· The stakes must be so high that it looks doubtful that they will even return alive
· I am willing to accompany them on this journey, unwilling to let them face it alone
· The story world must be detailed, grounded and in some way, winsome. Believable, above all.
· The story world must provide a brief respite from life as I know it, however briefly, to take my mind off of problems and issues.
As a child, I remember devouring the Anne of Green Gables series, hungrily seeking the next book in the series when I completed one. The pastoral setting sounded beautiful - safe - and the characters were so well-defined and held to high standards. But life in Avonlea wasn't without heartbreak and hard choices. The characters weren't perfect, but they were able to live uprightly while faced with their choices. The story line wasn't as perilous as those with a quest, but the problems were story worthy on a smaller scale.
Do you have a book or series that you revisit thanks to the extraordinary story world and characters? We’d love to hear!