Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones

Charmed Life

Written by Diana Wynne Jones
Part of the Essential Modern Classics Series

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

The Chrestomanci series, of which Charmed Life is the first, provides a wonderful first step to the world of magical fantasy. Written by one of THE pre-eminent English fantasy writers, Diane Wynne Jones back in 1977, it remains original, enchanting and addictive even now. Charmed Life is followed by three further Chrestromanci novels - The Magicians of Caprona, Witch Week and The Lives of Christopher Chant. Each of them will be devoured with equal enthusiasm. Characters are brilliantly described and the intriguing plots will have your imagination running riot and you guessing right up to the final denouement. Charmed Life is a must for fans of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. In a word, captivating.

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. Orphaned Gwendoline (already studying for Advanced Magic) and Cat are carried off to Chrestomanci Castle. From then on magic is part of daily life. Inventive and absurd. A charmed read.


Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones

Welcome to the world of Chrestomanci, where magic is as common as mathematics! Everybody says that Gwendolyn Chant is a gifted witch with astonishing powers, so it suits her enormously when she is taken to live in Chrestomanci Castle. Her brother Eric (better known as Cat) is not so keen, for he has no talent for magic at all. However, life with the great enchanter is not what either of them expects, and sparks begin to fly!


...Her hallmarks include laugh-aloud humour, plenty of magic and imaginative array of alternate worlds. Yet, at the same time, a great seriousness is present in all of her novels, a sense of urgency that links Jones's most outrageous plots to her readers

... Publishers Weekly Truly magical - guaranteed to leave you gasping - even hotter than Potter The Bookseller Diana Wynne Jones could teach Stephen King and JK Rowling a thing or two ... [she] has a skill for inserting just the right amount of detail in her written words, leaving you satiated but not stuffed. SFX

About the Author

Diana Wynne Jones

Reknowned children's science fiction and fantasy writer Diana Wynne Jones died in March 2011. Click here to read about the life of this author in The Guardian obituary.

Diana was born in August 1934 in London, where she had a chaotic and unsettled childhood against the background of World War II. The family moved around a lot, finally settling in rural Essex. As children, Diana and her two sisters were deprived of a good, steady supply of books by a father, 'who could beat Scrooge in a meanness contest'. So, armed with a vivid imagination and an insatiable quest for good books to read, she decided that she would have to write them herself.

Her higher education began in 1953 when she went up to St Anne's College Oxford, and attended lectures by CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. It was here she met her husband, John A Burrow, Professor of English at Bristol University. They married in 1956 and had three sons.

Diana Wynne Jones first conjured up the enigmatic and embroidered dressing-gowned enchanter Chrestomanci in 1977. The adventures in his magical worlds – for, as every budding sorcerer knows there are many series of parallel worlds – continue to enthral readers all over the world.

'Charmed Life', the first book in the Chrestomanci series, won the 1977 Guardian Award for Children's Books. Diana was runner-up for the Children's Book Award in 1981, and was twice runner-up for the Carnegie Medal. In 1999, she won two major fantasy awards: the children's section of the Mythopeic Award in the USA, and the Karl Edward Wagner Award in the UK – which is awarded by the British Fantasy Society to individuals or organisations who have made a significant impact on fantasy. JK Rowling was runner-up on both occasions. Diana was also shortlisted for The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, which rewards the best in contemporary children's and young adult literature from all over the world, in 2010.

Meeting Diana you wouldn't be surprised to find she had second sight (though she hadn't as far as I know). You'd think it quite natural that she should be a writer of fantasy, a connoisseur of witchcraft, a creator of parallel worlds. For her, magic wasn't something that floats about unrooted in human nature. 'Things we are accustomed to regard as myth or fairy story are very much present in people's lives.' She said, 'Nice people behave like wicked stepmothers. Every day.'

Diana on her writing:

"I think I write the kind of books I do because the world suddenly went mad when I was five years old. In late August 1939, on a blistering hot day, my father loaded me and my three-year-old sister, Isobel, into a friend’s car and drove to my grandparents’ manse in Wales.

" 'There’s going to be a war,' he explained. He went straight back to London, where my mother was expecting her third baby any day. We were left in the austere company of Mam and Dad (as we were told to call them). Dad, who was a moderator of the Welsh Nonconformist Chapels, was a stately patriarch; Mam was a small browbeaten lady who seemed to us to have no character at all. We were told that she was famous in her youth for her copper hair, her wit, and her beauty, but we saw no sign of any of this."

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Book Info


288 pages
Interest Age: From 9


Diana Wynne Jones
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Author's Website


Harpercollins Publishers

Publication date

6th March 2006




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