Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Book12 of 2015: Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien

I'm currently about a week behind in my Reading Challenge but at the moment I'm still on track to finish this year. I just may not read quite as many Christmas books as I normally do. I'm more than making up for it with all the Christmas films I'm watching in the run up to Christmas.

But way back at the beginning of the year, I was still on top of things, so for Week 7 (a book with a non-human character), I picked J.R.R. Tolkien's Roverandom. It's a book I read for the first time a couple of years ago and so decided fitted the bill perfectly for that week, plus I was due a reread as well.

It's a story inspired by one of Tolkien's sons losing a much loved toy dog during a trip to the beach. To help console the little boy, Tolkien told him all about the fantastic adventures that the toy dog, Roverandom, got up to after he left. And those stories are collected together into Roverandom, following his journeys into space and the depths of the sea.

My edition is lovely and pocket-sized, perfect for popping in a bag for reading on the go. That said, it's not a long read. I could almost have read it in sitting, if I didn't have any distractions. As it was, I started it one night and finished it the next morning.

This copy has an introduction at the beginning plus a whole host of notes at the end. I can't help but wonder if the story might have changed and been expanded, had Tolkien not set it aside to write another story about Hobbits. I can see links between this and some of the stories in the early books in The Histories of Middle-earth and you can see how he was playing with elements of things he intended to bring up later in other stories.

It's also interesting to try to spot all the little in-jokes and little nods to other stories (both by Tolkien and by other authors) as well as to historical events and figures. I knew to look out for them from my last read of it. The notes at the back are helpful to pick up on the ones that you've missed. The nice thing is, you don't need to know what they're referring to in order to enjoy the story, but when you do get them, they're a nice little bonus.

The pictures are all Tolkien's own, in a similar style to the ones in Letters from Father Christmas. They are simple but lovely. There are actually several that I would love to get enlarged and framed, they're that nice.

Having read this book reminded me that I need to read more of the children's books by Tolkien. Since reading Roverandom I've acquired a copy of Farmer Giles of Ham which is somewhere near the top of my To-Read list. Look out for the review of that one in the future.

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