Friday 5 January 2018

The Book of Dust

Phillip Pullman, 2017
(December 2017)

His Dark Materials will forever hold a very special place in my heart. I read the first two instalments in paperback just before The Amber Spyglass was released, so was able to take in the whole sweep of the trilogy in pretty much a single dose. More poignantly, I read that final volume just after I'd decided to come to Japan for the first time, and to try to make my relationship with my then girlfriend work long distance.* You'll understand why the dénouement to Will and Lyra's story hit particularly hard. I love the books with a passion, and have recommended them to countless people since, but will probably never reread them.

So The Book of Dust is all very exciting, finally giving me a full length opportunity to get back into Lyra's world.** And what a world. Biblical floods, Homeric journeys, and a notable episode in Wallingford, a small town in Oxfordshire I know fairly well because my grandparents used to live nearby. When I lived in London I visited them fairly regularly, and the journey that makes up the second part of The Book of Dust reads like my old rail itinerary in reverse. Nostalgia smacking me in the face every which way. Is it possible to separate that out from my experience of reading this book? Or even necessary or desirable? Clearly not. I therefore have nothing witty or insightful to say about this book except that, while you can't cross the same river twice, it's good to be home.