I have been a fan of the Harry Potter books for many years. I bought the first one, ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’, for my ten year-old daughter when it first came out, but for reasons unknown she wouldn’t read it. When later on I noticed the book being read by adults on the London Underground I became curious, and likewise took it to work with me. I was immediately hooked! I couldn’t put it down; J K Rowling’s writing was superb and the story was great. When I had finished it I couldn’t wait for the next one to be published, and so it went on. When the films came out they were watched and enjoyed, but not quite to the same degree, because of course they could not possibly contain all the detail of the books.
Books read, films watched. So now what to do?
As you may remember from my other reviews, I drive an old 2CV (hooray) and for the last two or three years (up until last August) I was making a twice-weekly round trip of some 50 miles to do computer work for a terminally-ill friend in Enfield. This left me wondering what to do for entertainment whilst driving back and forth, for there was no radio and certainly no boot-full of speakers! The answer came in the form of my iPhone and headphones; but instead of listening to music, which I always find irritating when I’m driving because I can’t easily change it, I decided on audio books; so naturally the first thing I loaded onto it was the complete set of Harry Potter books, (borrowed from the friend) and to my delight I discovered that they were read by the magnificent Stephen Fry. For that half-dozen of you who do not know, these books follow the adventures of a boy, Harry Potter, through his schooldays at Hogwarts, a school for witchcraft and wizardry. Until the age of eleven, Harry did not know anything about magic, and lived with his aunt and uncle, the Dursleys, who did their best to ignore him and his strange talents, doting on their son Dudley instead. We are introduced to the world of magic where Harry discovers that he is already a well-known celebrity for being the only survivor of an attack on him and his family by the most famous dark wizard of them all, Lord Voldemort, when just a baby. The books are full of action and adventure and tell of Harry’s mission to destroy this murderer of his family. J K Rowling’s writing is a pleasure to read; she uses real English with proper grammar and I am sure that many children have derived great benefit from reading her books. I have so far listened to these books four times, I think, and am now part-way through them again. I have them on in my car; when I am plodding on the treadmill, and when I am dog-walking. Any excuse to get on with the stories! I have listened to many other audiobooks too, but in my opinion, nobody
reads as well as Stephen Fry. In the first of these books his reading is a touch slow, but I think this must be deliberate as it suits the style of this book, which is of course aimed mainly at the reading levels of children who are of the same age as Harry Potter; that is, eleven.