First published in 2014.
Christopher Milne’s The Enchanted Places is one of the newest books on Bello’s thoughtful list of reprints. He was the son of A.A. Milne, and the inspiration for the darling character Christopher Robin – ‘the small boy with the long hair, smock and wellington boots’ – who shares his adventures with a cast of lively and captivating animals, including Pooh and Piglet.
The Enchanted Places has been written from the vantage point of the author’s mid-50s, and tells of his childhood in the ‘enchanted places’ in Sussex in which he used to play – the Hundred Acre Wood, Poohsticks Bridge and Galleon’s Lap, among others. As well as talking of his own adventures as a young boy, Milne ‘draws a memorable portrait of his father… [in] a story told with humour and modesty’.
The Enchanted Places, first published in 1974, is the first book in Milne’s three volume autobiographical series, and deals solely with his life as a young boy. His memoirs begin ‘somewhere around the year 1932’ in his Crotchford Farm home, a place which he and his family adored. Milne describes the reason for which he decided to write about his life as follows: ‘To some extent, then, this book is an attempt to salve my conscience; and it may perhaps be some slight consolation to all those who have written and waited in vain for a reply that this, in a sense therefore, is their reply’.
Throughout, The Enchanted Places is absolutely charming, and full of vivacity. Milne’s descriptions are beautiful, and it is clear that he was forever full of love for both nature and life. Rural England springs vividly to life beneath his pen. Each chapter presents a mini essay of sorts on one subject or another, and whilst Milne’s prose style echoes his father’s, there is also something wonderfully original about it.
Milne is a rather humble man, and comes across so nicely on the page. He takes the reader on a journey back in time with him to encompass his nursery days, his forays into the Hundred Acre Wood, tours of his home, the discovery of his very first treehouse, and the adoration he held for his childhood nanny. He goes on to talk of the problems which he encountered due to his immortalisation in fiction, and demonstrates how his father’s fame impacted upon him from such an early age.
The Enchanted Places is a quaint and an incredibly lovely read, and is sure to be a welcome addition to any bookshelf. The natural settings and shyness of Milne as a young boy have been captured perfectly, and the book presents a rich treasure trove of memories, certain to enchant everyone for whom Winnie the Pooh was a part of childhood.