Saturday, March 15, 2014

#DWJMarch: Read-Along Discussion -- Enchanted Glass

I hope that a few of you found the time to read Enchanted Glass. This is one of my favorite DWJ books. It's for a bit younger of a reader than some of her other books but I think it's a good entry book for those who haven't given her a try yet. It's got quite a few of her trademark elements (magic, mythology, unconventional families) and it brings everything together in a strong stand-alone story.

Please feel free to discuss this story any way you would like on your blog or here in the comments (or anywhere else you choose). Here are a few questions to get discussion started. Feel free to answer some or all of them here or on your own site.

  1. What do you think of the relationship between Aidan and Andrew? Do you see it as more of a father/son relationship or older/younger brother or not familial at all? What do you think of the fact that they "see" magic in the same way? Did that give anything away?

  2. What are your thoughts on DWJ including a disabled character (Tarquin)? What do you think of the treatment of his disability/injury?

  3. What's the deal with Mrs. Stock? (Did anyone else want Groil to accidentally step on her?)

  4. Why do you think some counterpart pairs are opposites in personality (Titania/Stashe) while others are both "good" (Shaun/Groil)?

  5. What did you think of the ending? Too rushed or just right?

Here are my thoughts. There will be spoilers.

This was my third time through this book but I still didn't remember that last letter from Mr. Brown and didn't suspect anything about the Aidan/Andrew relationship. It was a pleasant surprise (again, I guess) except for the fact that you start thinking about Jocelyn Brandon being a creep. Up until that point, you kind of wish you had a chance to see/meet him and then, all of a sudden, you don't. Luckily, there's no chance of meeting him and so you're just left with Andrew and Stashe who are obviously going to do all the right things by Aidan.

I really liked Tarquin, both when he was living a productive life with just one leg and after, when he was (mostly) whole again. I do like that he still carried around the crutch and worried about the leg disappearing again though. It gave him more depth than if DWJ had just had Andrew wave a magic hand to make Tarquin hop and run about with no residual worries or anything. I also really like that Tarquin was such a good father. In fact, besides so many parents being dead in this story, there were actually good parents in the story (Trixie, Tarquin and Andrew as a surrogate) and the only bad one, Mr. Brown, was actually the villain. Even the foster parents were good to their children and were let off the hook about Aidan when it was revealed that he enchanted them.

As for Mrs. Stock, I still couldn't figure her out this time through. There is no apparent reason for her to be so vengeful and mean and stubborn. I guess it's just supposed to be her personality? I wish that you at least found out that she had been wronged or disappointed when she was young or something. On a side note, does anyone out there really like cauliflower cheese?

I found the counterparts to be a really interesting part of the story, especially because characters would momentarily mistake them for their friends and family, even with missing facial hair or different clothing styles or whatever, which makes me think that there was something essential in their beings that radiated a sameness that was more than just cosmetic. I've always thought of doppelgängers as "evil twins" but it does seem more likely that, when duplicating a person from faerie to the real world, there's just as much chance that they would have similar personalities as opposites, or even more likely that they would just end up being a shade different. Maybe this explains Mrs. Stock? I don't think we ever saw a counterpart for her but maybe she ended up being just as disagreeable as her faerie counterpart, just as Groil and Shaun were similarly pleasant, with no real reason?

Finally, I remember the ending seeming very rushed the first time I read this story but this time I didn't feel that at all. Either I'm finally acclimated to the pace of DWJ's endings or this one has a large finale but not necessarily a rushed one. It certainly is a big and amazing and abrupt ending but there's the foreshadowing of the racing results and also many hints that the story is going to come to its climax at the fete.

Overall, this reading just reaffirmed that this is one of my favorite DWJ stories. What did the rest of you think?


  1. I love this book. I'm afraid I didn't get a chance to read it again for this read-along, but I have read it twice previously.

    I love the relationship between Aidan and Andrew. I think it's a nice mix of fatherly/brotherly. I'm sure their relationship is the main reason why I enjoy this story so much. DWJ does such a lovely job of writing appealing, young, orphan boys. A category in which I put him along with Cat Chant and Michael Fisher.

    I agree with you that it is nice that Tarquin still sort of struggles with his disability even once it is "fixed". I don't like it when fictional stories just "fix" disabilities in order to bring on a happy ending. In real life, people have to learn to live with their disabilities, and I would love to see that happening more in fiction as well.

    I think Mrs. Stock is there as a red herring. We think she must be an evil counterpart because she's so nasty, but then it turns out that's just how she is. And I find you come across people like that in real life too. There are probably reasons for their nastiness, but we don't always know them.

    I will just finish off by declaring that I do really like cauliflower cheese, and will in fact be cooking it for tea one night this week. :)

    1. The relationship is definitely a big part of why I enjoy it too. It's so comfortable even though they've just met and I like the trust that is established.

      And that's a good way to look at Mrs. Stock. She drives me crazy but she's authentic.

      Finally ... Cauliflower cheese! I'm glad you like it. :)

  2. I can't keep up with you Kristen! I finally finished my reread of Enchanted Glass and really enjoyed it. (The first time I read it I didn't think it was one of my favourites, but I liked it a lot better on a reread. Happens alot with DWJ!)

    The revelation in Mr. Brown's last letter bothered me, too, so much that I was pretty sure he must be lying (except fairies can't lie). Definitely impacts my opinion of Jocelyn Brandon; makes me wonder if DWJ actually thought it was okay, or, worse, that it was the girl's fault. Or is it part of her theme that nobody's perfect, even people with great responsibilities for good? Problematic, for sure. And I didn't think Andrew and Aidan needed to be related, because they adopted each other out of trust and responsibility and I liked that developing relationship: I didn't see it as being familial, just that Andrew saw a younger version of himself, and it spoke a lot about Andrew's character that he was willing to take Aidan on. (And that he could always get his name right.)

    I thought Mrs. Stock was hilarious! And Mr. Stock. The vegetables were the best part of this book! (Best Use of Vegetables in Literature—there should be an award!)

    Is Cauliflower Cheese just cauliflower in cheese sauce? Because I like that, but I wouldn't want to have it several days in a row!

    1. I really don't think DWJ thought it was okay or blamed the girl. I think it was taking some of the gloss off of Jocelyn Brandon but I'm not sure why. It's a strange twist for a children's book, that's for sure.

      And I looked at some recipes and I think Cauliflower Cheese is basically just baked Mac and Cheese but cauliflower instead of mac? But then I'm not sure what Potato Cheese was? I have to research that now too. :)

  3. I just finished this one this afternoon, wrote up a quick review, and now I'm ready to chat about it! Overall, I really enjoyed this one. It's not my favorite, but it is definitely up there!

    I really liked Aidan and Andrew's relationship, and I always kind of viewed it as an older/younger brother. BUT, I was still surprised by that ending! And, I have to agree with you that it made me think more about Jocelyn and how I viewed him after that. Though I also got to thinking that some of the earlier details do point to that, like the trust fund.

    Mrs. Stock is definitely a cranky one! I have no idea why. I thought that she was supposed to have a counterpart though, but maybe we didn't meet her. I just remember thinking that she was in the glass.

    I did think the ending was a bit rushed, but not as rushed as that marriage proposal!! :)

    And, I have no idea what cauliflower cheese even is!!

    I loved some of the secondary characters in this book, particularly Tarquin, Rolf, and Groil. So many great ones in this story!

  4. Both Mr. Stack and Mrs. Stack are mentioned as having been visible human counterparts in the enchanted glass, in a memory Andrew had about his grandfather. At that time they were the only two. I wonder if that was why the grandfather employed those otherwise difficult employees.