The Magician’s Book
A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia
Little, Brown and Company, $25.99, 320 pp.
My eleven-year-old serves on the altar two Sundays a month and can tell you who destroyed the first and second temples, but even he objects when reminded that C. S. Lewis intended the Chronicles of Narnia as a retelling of the Christian story. “It’s also just a book,” says my son, by which he means that the Pevensie children’s trip through the wardrobe is also about the experience of reading. “It showed me how I could tumble through a hole in the world I knew and into another better one,” writes Laura Miller in her memoir, The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia.
As a teenager falling away from her Catholic faith, Miller is horrified to discover that Lewis intended to lure her back to the “guilt-mongering and tedious rituals” of the church. Angry and humiliated that she’s missed the obvious metaphors, Miller exiles herself from Narnia. She becomes a book critic, a co-founder of the Web magazine Salon, a contributor to the New York Times Book Review; but she never forgets the “fresher, more brighty colored, more exhilarating” world that Lewis gave her as a child.
The Magician’s Book is the story of Miller’s return to Narnia, and, as the subtitle implies, she is returning on her own terms. “I am no longer young, and can’t read the Chronicles the way...