Old friends meet again

I don’t remember ever being so excited about a match, or so heartbroken about a family reunion, or so upset about my super awesome broomstick being taken away.

Last year I started rereading the Harry Potter books for that reason – I’d forgotten. The first three books were read to me more than 10 years ago, the others I read on the beach, as the translations came out and don’t really recall much of them. I spotted this new, beautiful, paperback British edition and started buying them one by one. I got stuck on the third one (allegedly because I could only find it in a different size than the others and it looked so misplaced next to them… I’m picky) but a couple of weeks ago I picked it up on the way to class and ended up reading several chapters. I finished it last weekend, in a frenzy.

Doesn't it look odd next to the others?
Poor thing.

(I’m assuming you all know what happens in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, so it’s not like I’ll be spoiling it for you.)

I know it’s cliché, but the movie changes so much of it! Even the general feel of it – from the third movie onwards, the most repeated comment was “it’s gotten much darker”, mainly seen as a good thing. But that’s one of the things I was amazed at when I first started rereading them – it’s really written for kids! Okay, it’s got some harsh lessons and life-threatening plots, but it’s for kids! Like the back cover says, it’s “funny, quirky and imaginative”, and sooo much of that was lost in the movie, I think.

Completely devoid of axe-men

I was specially surprised with Dumbledore, whom I remembered as so serene and that quietly wise kinda character — and then, in the first book, he happily sings a weird Hogwarts song during dinner; in this one, he makes Snape get a Cracker and then puts on Neville’s grandmother’s hat when it appears. He’s fun. And he teaches Harry some lessons during long-ish conversations at the end of the books. On this one, Harry is confused about how he thought he saw his dad and it was really him and how his Patronus takes the form of his dad’s animagus ( A- did you know that? I did not know that!! B- also did not know animagus weren’t born animagi, was amazed. Doesn’t take much to amaze me, ha.) and Dumbledore has a somewhat insightful conversation with him about how the people we love never really go away, and that that night his dad walked in the clearing. Or something. All I know is it was a great chapter and that even though most of it was probably lost in the younger crowd of readers, it’s still a fantastic lesson. And it didn’t sound nearly as mushy as I’m making it sound.

Can’t remember if that was in the movie.

But one thing that wasn’t in there was Professor McGonagall’s bickering with Professor Trelawney, which I found quite amusing. There’s this bit that I want to transcribe (there were 13 people dining, hence the issue of who-got-up-first-will-die thing, btw):

Professor Trelawney behaved almost normally until the very end of Christmas dinner, two hours later. Full to bursting with Christmas dinner and still wearing their cracker hats, Harry and Ron got up first from the table and she shrieked loudly.

‘My dears! Which of you left his seat first? Which?’

‘Dunno,’ said Ron, looking uneasily at Harry.

‘I doubt it will make much difference,’ said Professor McGonagall coldly, ‘unless a mad axe-man is waiting outside the doors to slaughter the first into the Entrance Hall.’

Even Ron laughed. Professor Trelawney looked highly affronted.

‘Coming?’ Harry said to Hermione.

‘No,’ Hermione muttered. ‘I want a quick word with Professor McGonagall.’

‘Probably trying to see if she can take any more classes,’ yawned Ron as they made their way into the Entrance Hall, which was completely devoid of mad axe-men.

(page 249/250)

Isn’t it really ‘fun and quirky’? Makes for perfect late night reading.

Also, was a bit upset on behalf of Sirius for them attributing the Firebolt to McGonagall instead of him in the movie.

I think my favourite bit of the book was Sirius asking Harry to live with him, and how happy he was when he accepted. It felt like something right was finally happening to him. Terribly mean, because obviously I remembered what was/is bound to happen.

Crookshank’s image has forever changed for me too.

And now I’m not sure when I’ll manage to read the next one (I’ve searched my Shelf of Forgotten Books and found the next one, in English, in a weird paperback edition I found lying around a thrift shop, God knows how long ago), but I sure will try to prolong the happy HP feel.

Oh, there’s another quote I want to put here!

Harry is a lot… sassier? Can you say sassier for guys? Mischievous, maybe? Regarding his aunt/uncle/cousin, which I find very therapeutic to read.

‘It’s a letter from my godfather.’

‘Godfather?’ spluttered Uncle Vernon. ‘You haven’t got a godfather!’

‘Yes, I have,’ said Harry brightly. ‘He was my mum and dad’s best friend. He’s a convicted murderer, but he’s broken out of wizard prison and he’s on the run. He likes to keep in touch with me, though … keep up with my news … check I’m happy …’

And grinning broadly at the look of horror on Uncle Vernon’s face, Harry set off toward the station exit, Hedwig rattling along in front of him, for what looked like a much better summer than the last.

(page 468)

 That’s the last page of the book. Isn’t it great? Even with the disappointment of Sirius still being on the run and Harry’s return to the Dursley’s, JKR manages to get us happy by the end of it.

Very, very, very fun read.

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7 thoughts on “Old friends meet again

  1. I hate it when you re-read the books after seeing the movies and you picture the actors. I hate that they change so many things. There was a time when I worshiped these books and knew them like the back of hand. I’ve moved on, of course but they are still a classic comfort read. I love them.

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