I wish I had jumped on the Harry Potter broomstick a little earlier, and certainly way before I’d watched the films a gazillion times with my kids. But I didn’t. I did, however, promise my daughter that I would read the series this summer. I actually made the promise on CBC radio so I feel extra obligated to make an attempt. I actually read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone out loud to a grade nine class a couple years back and I certainly enjoyed reading it. Now I’ve finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and I enjoyed reading that, too. Problem is, I keep seeing the movie in my head, although I guess that’s not the worst thing that could happen when reading a novel.
We join Harry once more at the home of his aunt and uncle, Vernon and Petunia Dursley. They haven’t changed a bit since we met in them in the first book. If possible, Uncle Vernon is perhaps even more odious. Harry is feeling particularly miserable because he hasn’t heard from either Ron or Hermione all summer long. Life is pretty grim and he can’t wait to get back to Hogwarts.
Harry is trying to stay out of everyone’s way when he enters his bedroom and is startled by a “little green creature on the bed [with] large, bat-like ears and bulging green eyes the size of tennis balls.” Meet Dobby, the house-elf.
Like all of Rowling’s characters, Dobby is fully realized and it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with him straight away. One of Rowling’s many strengths is her ability to make her characters gloriously human (or, non-human, but also amazingly well-drawn). Because I knew it was coming, I waited through the whole book for Dobby to be freed from servitude and I loved the written version as much as I loved the on-screen version.
Back at Hogwarts, there are strange and scary things happening in the castle and once more Harry, Ron and Hermione are called upon to figure out how to stop evil in its tracks. That part of the mystery wasn’t so interesting to me since I already knew how it would all turn out.
The part of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets I enjoyed the most was Gilderoy Lockhart, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts tutor.
Although I loved Kenneth Branagh’s portrayal of the narcissistic Lockhart, he was so much funnier in the book.
And then there’s Dumbledore’s famous line, which when I finally came to it, gave me the warm fuzzies and reminded me of why these characters will endure. After all the fuss in the Chamber of Secrets and Harry’s own bouts with self doubt, Dumbledore reassures Harry that “It is our choices, Harry, who show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities.”