The Hand Of Kinship

Have you ever reached the end of a novel or a film or a play and wanted it to continue, not because you didn’t want the fiction to end and reality recommence, but because you felt that should a character cease evolving, you should dissolve into nothingness along  with them? At its lightest, this feeling of being parted from your alter ego can extract a little sigh of momentary sadness from the one who is occupied with such a book, as it is usually from the printed word this feeling of longing slithers into the soul; silent reading is, as the title (pun heartily intended) suggests, a past-time to be undertaken in solitude.

Only a little brain racking is required by most of us to reminisce upon a character from which we couldn’t bear to be parted. Waving a close-to-tearful goodbye to Hermione (both on paper and on-screen) marked the end of the period of my childhood which will be forever spoken of as the ‘Harry Potter Years’. She was the girl everybody related to: you were either like her and rejoiced in her bookishness or unlike her but couldn’t help secretly admiring her all the same. She was smart, sarcastic, confident and oh so easy to emulate in costume form on World Book Day (which other girls in my year did but I opted for the more considered approach of Professor Minerva McGonagall – mask of Maggie Smith’s face, long black dress, green shawl, Scottish accent).

For me, this feeling of sorrow is difficult to extinguish in a hurry. It can be distracted from by events in reality, or even other works of the same medium, but it cannot be suppressed or banished. It lingers at the back of one’s mind – only to meander to the forefront in moments of quiet or calm. It is due, more than to our yearning to continue with them on their journey through a fantasy land and instead to the uneasy notion that they will embark on adventures and experiences that we will never be able to share with them.

As if, by some cruelly unfair twist of fate we are forced to make hasty farewells to the humans and animals and creatures great and small with whom we have shared so much of ourselves; our hopes, our dreams, our spirits. For me it was with The Twins of St Clare’s and The Famous Five, the Fossil sisters of “Ballet Shoes” fame and any number of Michael Morpurgo creations. These characters – or people, to many of us – will never age, will never change their personalities, their fears or their goals. They are cast in a bronze haze of memory and long may they remain that way.

6 thoughts on “The Hand Of Kinship

  1. I know exactly what you mean. Yes, I have often felt that way. And it’s uncanny that you mentioned Ballet Shoes: growing up in the NY suburbs of Long Island, with a great local public library, I’m fairly sure that my sister and I were the only ones who read the entire series. Those sisters!!

    And I can so relate to Hermoine. Cringeingly so. I think my husband feels I’m way too Hermione-esque at times.

    If you think it’s hard to let go of a character you read about, imagine writing about one! It was really hard for me to let go when I was finishing my novel: I didn’t want it to end. Btw: because you’ve been so uniquely supportive – I stopped by to thank you for what you wrote, it really touched me – send me an email, I’ll send you my novel. Just in case you find yourself between heroines! ; ) xx

  2. I totally know what you mean! I felt that way whenever the Harry Potter series ended as well! You get involved in these characters lives and feel like they are real people and your friends. I always find myself rooting for a character and getting really involved while reading. I love books! lol


  3. I agree, I want some books to last forever so I never have to say goodbye to my favourite characters! I felt the same in Rebecca. I couldn’t put it down yet I didn’t want to finish it!

    Actually my bag isn’t Cath Kidston, it just has a remarkable likeness! Shhh, don’t tell! It was a present and when I got it it took me a long time to realise it wasn’t real!

  4. So many chords struck here. Yes, there is such a bitter-sweetness about closing the final page on a much-loved childhood book and then turning back and realising that you have moved on and waved goodbye to a whole lot more too…
    One of the great pleasures for me of having a younger sibling has been re-visiting cherished favorites through reading aloud or through listening in to his much-played audio versions. There are whole passages from Eva Ibbotson’s The Secret of Platform 13 plus anything by the utterly wonderful Margaret Mahy that we can both still quote to each other. And of course, the ongoing magic of The Secret Garden, The Borrowers, Ballet Shoes or Enid Blyton adventures lies in the shared joy to be mined from recalling them with others for whom those books occupy a similarly special place.

  5. This is so true of how I often fell, like the world you created inside your head is suddenly ripped away from you, along with the new ‘friend’ you have grown so fond of. When I was younger the Magic Far Away Tree and The lion, the witch and the wardrobe were my favourites. Moonface and Aslan I never wanted to leave and often revisited. I was crushed when Anne Rice decided to stop writing the Vampire and Witch novels. She always said the main character Lestat was based on her husband, so when he died she felt the character died too. So very sad.

  6. I completely agree. I like to think though that a character ceasing to exist once we finish a story is only a barrier in our minds though, maybe because I still want to identify with all the wonderful Enid Blyton characters; I was addicted to her stories when I was younger.
    You have a great blog, I will follow you if you would like to do the same 🙂

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