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I’ve owned this book since it came out in 2006 but have shamefully only just got around to reading it. I am sorry that this is the case because it is a fascinating read. Through a series of four literary essays and a conclusion Charles Butler discusses the work of four of my favourite authors in this book.

At first glance you may wonder why he has selected these four to discuss, when on the face of it their writing (particularly Penelope Lively’s) does not perhaps seem that similar. The reason, because they have all written fantasy for children and they were all students at Oxford at the same time, at a time when Tolkien and Lewis were teaching. He goes on to explain how this chance of circumstance doesn’t really, curiously, have anything to do with it.

Reading this book made me look at some of my favourite books in a whole new light, and has filled me with many pertinent quotes to do with my own writing. I also have a burning desire to re-read so many books on the basis of what Charles Butler has written.

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