A short while ago I picked up a book for my daughter. I was drawn to it because it was to be made into the (possibly last) Studio Ghibli film and I have been a fan of their films for a long time. The film still hasn’t made it to the UK yet – we would have to pay a lot of money to get the un-dubbed Japanese version of the DVD – but the story appealed.
Freya is reading a lot at the moment. She is taking in all kinds of genres and is open to and surprised by story forms that I might have become a little jaded by. She hasn’t read Tom’s Midnight Garden yet and so, I thought, might be pleasantly surprised by how a story like that pans out.
So I bought the book and Freya wasn’t interested in it. She had too many other, more tempting books available and it turned out that I had misjudged her reading age slightly. Not wanting the book to gather dust I read it myself.
When Marnie was there was written in the 1960s and describes a world which is beginning a process of accelerated change. The references to people watching telly make it sound like pastime that had only recently been a novelty. Almost no one makes a phone call. The rhythm of the day is governed by the light and the tides.
The subject matter of the book is a girl who doesn’t quite fit in but who, maybe with a tiny bit of magic, finds a way to be happy. OK, I’m not a girl, but this appealed greatly to me. I loved being in this world. Because I had read Tom’s Midnight Garden I could see what was coming. Or at least I thought I could. But the dynamics of the story still swept me along and I even gasped with surprise in one of the last chapters. This was reading for pleasure and I look forward to seeing what Studio Ghibli make of it. More importantly, I can’t wait to see the look on my daughter’s face when she makes this discovery for the first time for herself.