I first came across one of George MacDonald’s books when I was eight years old. I was in the school library when I picked up a rather thick book for an eight year old with an intriguing title: The Princess and the Goblin. There was some illustrations inside which made the book seem even more promising. I knew nothing then about the author or when the book was written. I knew no one who had read it who could recommend it to me. Yet I had a strong instinct and borrowed the book completely undaunted by fellow schoolmates who told me it looked too hard to read.
What makes a book a good book? What makes it a classic? We often fall in love with books because of how well-written it may be or how exciting the story is. Sometimes it is the flow of the language that mesmerises us, sometimes it maybe a sense of humour. Other times it may be the gripping plot of the characters who have to leap through barriers, find their courage and overcome against all odds. The Princess And The Goblin has all these things but there were two aspects about that book which particular gripped me when I was a child. First-after being sad for the little princess who had no mother, the story then unfolds to reveal a wonderful surprise for the princess — that of unconditional love. I was filled with such joy for the main character and longed to experience the same. Second-the story is enveloped in mysterious magic that keeps you guessing about the little princess’ Great-great-Grandmother. I couldn’t put the book down and when I got to the end of the book, I began reading it all over again. Two years later I discovered the sequel, The Princess And Curdie. I have since read the books to each of my six children and hope to read it to my grand-children. If I had an essential reading list, The Princess And The Goblin would be on it.