Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun. If you wish to add your own review to the conversation, please sign on to the link list at the end of my post.
Title: Howl's Moving Castle
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Frequent visitors to The Squid already know of my family's tremendous affection for the films of Hayao Miyazaki. One of my favorites among them is Howl's Moving Castle (my review here). As such, I didn't need much convincing when fellow blogger Charles the Reader recommended that I try the original novel. Our Girl read it first, using it for a book project during the past school year and enjoying it very much.
There are perils in watching a film before reading the source material, just as there are in the opposite direction. In either case, one comes to the second medium with strong preconceptions, sure to be challenged. I tend to favor the book as I believe strongly in following the intent of the original author. So, reading the story second often undermines things I thought I liked about the movie. There are many differences between novel and movie in the case of Howl's Moving Castle, some inevitable in light of the works' relative scale but some of Miyazaki's choices sent the story on entirely different vectors. Both stories work, though, and to the credit of both creators, Jones gave Miyazaki her blessing.
Sophie is the oldest of three sisters working in the family hat shop. When their father dies, the two sisters are sent off for apprenticeships elsewhere but Sophie stays. One day, the Wicked Witch of the Waste comes in and turns Sophie into an elderly woman, for reasons our heroine does not understand. She leaves home to wander the world and find her new place in it. She encounters, as the title suggests, a moving castle and manages to get inside. There she befriends Calcifer, the fire demon who steers the ship, as it were; Michael, a teenage boy who serves as a wizard's assistant and, eventually, Howl the wizard who owns the castle. With a few changes in details, the basic set up of the movie is the same.
In the book, the area Howl and his castle roam is significantly broadened, including trips to modern Wales - a story element abandoned for the film. In the novel, Howl engages in direct battle with the Witch whereas he avoids all conflict in Miyazaki's interpretation. The end result is essentially the same for Sophie but the adventures that bring her there are quite different between the two media. I'll be curious to watch the movie again sometime to know how my exposure to the original impacts my perception.
I'm also interested in further Sophie and Howl adventures. Moving Castle was the first of a three-part series. Castle in the Air was published in 1990, House of Many Ways in 2008. Diana Wynne Jones passed away in 2011 at the age of 76.
Please join us and share your own review of your best read from the past
month. This month's link list is below. I'll keep it open until the
end of the day. I'll post August's tomorrow. Meetings are the last
Friday of each month. Next gathering is August 30th.