Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Book Review: Tolkien (2014)

Tolkien: How An Obscure Oxford Professor Wrote the Hobbit and Became the Most Beloved Author of the Century. Devin Brown. Abingdon Press. [Source: Review copy]

Devin Brown's biography of J.R.R. Tolkien may be relatively short, but, it is packed with information. It's lively too. I loved the tone and the approach. Brown writes with much passion for the subject!

Readers learn about his life. (Tolkien as a son, student, husband, soldier, professor, writer, father, friend, etc.)  Readers learn about his works (The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings). Brown's presentation is anything but dry and boring. It is lively, fact-filled, fascinating. I had read an edition of The Annotated Hobbit, so, I was familiar with a few things. But I learned so much by reading this short biography!

I love that the focus is both on him as a person (his family life, his faith, his teaching career, etc.) and as a writer, on specific works. I love learning about his writing process, his rough drafts, his editing, his determination, his frustrations, his dealings with publishers, etc. I loved the journey: seeing the books evolve over decades. These books weren't quickly written!

One of the things I love most of all is the inclusion of direct quotes and primary sources. It seems like a little thing, perhaps, but these glimpses where we get to know Tolkien in his own words, do make the book worth reading. Earlier in the fall, I reviewed a children's biography on Tolkien by Anne E. Neimark. It was okay. But it didn't really do Tolkien justice in my opinion. This one does.

It's an accessible biography. It isn't intimidating. I would definitely recommend this one. It was wonderful. I LOVED it.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

1 comment:

hopeinbrazil said...

Sounds wonderful. Thanks for letting us know about this book.