I’m just an American girl reading the Harry Potter British editions in my spare time, then posting about it here! If you missed the first post about Philosopher’s Stone, check it out here!
First Line: "Not for the first time, an argument had broken out over breakfast at number four, Privet Drive."
British vs. American English: I’ve been overseas, so there are some things that I read and don’t even recognize as different. Like jumper vs. sweater or pitch vs. field. But here are a few differences that popped out to me.
(British edition word/phrase = interpretation)
completely at sea = completely confused
Father Christmas = Santa Claus
up at cock-crow = up at dawn
matron = nurse
jump-jets = fighter jets / military planes
to grass on = to tattle on
Laugh-Worthy Moment:“Harry came round, rain falling on his face, still lying on the pitch, with someone leaning over him. He saw a glitter of teeth.
‘Oh no, not you,’ he moaned.
‘Doesn’t know what he’s saying,’ said Lockhart loudly, to the anxious crowd of Gryffindors pressing around them. ‘Not to worry, Harry. I’m about to fix your arm.’” (page 129-130).
Cry-Worthy Moment: Even though Harry is lying to Professor McGonagall about missing class to visit Hermione in the hospital wing (when Harry and Ron were really trying to question Moaning Myrtle), it’s a heartfelt moment. McGonagall gets emotional, and Harry and Ron visit Hermione because they don’t want to have lied to McGonagall.
Notable Quote: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” –Professor Dumbledore (page 245)
Last Line: "And together they walked back through the gateway to the Muggle world."
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry has been a part of the wizarding world for a year. He’s learning the basics of magic and is about to return to Hogwarts for his second year, though not if a particular house elf gets his way.
JK Rowling ties her plot together nicely, like a bow. Everything’s mentioned, explained or foreshadowed so when something happens, however small, it makes sense as the reader already has previous knowledge of it. For example: Fawkes. Harry visits Dumbledore’s office (because he’s in trouble, so for good reason) but he sees Fawkes burn and be reborn. He knows Fawkes is Dumbledore’s phoenix and Dumbledore tells him that phoenixes are loyal creatures with healing powers. So when Fawkes turns up in the Chamber of Secrets after Harry shows loyalty to Dumbledore, it makes sense. And when Fawkes’ tears heal Harry after he’s stabbed with a basilisk fang, it’s not an unforeseen surprise.
I have to admit it’s a stretch that any 12 year-old could defeat a giant snake and the 16 year-old diary version of Lord Voldemort, but of course Harry isn’t just any 12 year-old. He’s brave and quick-witted and he had loads of help. Rowling didn’t make Harry a master swordsman when he pulled Gryffindor’s sword from the sorting hat (as that wouldn't have been believable). Harry acts on his instincts regularly (with both good and bad outcomes) so it’s plausible that he knew to impale the diary with the fang. Even though I’m only on the second book in the series, I’ve already seen Harry’s growth and expect it to continue (as his actions will be based more in knowledge and skill as the books continue and less on chance). And luckily as he grows, he will be less susceptible to things like being fooled by a diary that thinks for itself. Harry and Ginny are both still young and innocent (and Harry relatively new to the wizarding world), so it’s believable that the diary could weasel into their minds. It’s a good balance of what could/would happen to the average 12 year-old and what Harry, an exceptional pre-teen, can accomplish.
I did miss Hermione in the later portion of Chamber of Secrets, since she was lying petrified on a hospital bed. Though, in her absence, I got to know Ron better. I saw his dry sarcasm and learned more about his brand of bravery and the extent of his fears (spiders!). I can’t wait for more Ginny, as in Chamber she’s mostly sad and depressed and rarely talks due to her schoolgirl crush on Harry.
In Chamber of Secrets, the reader learns more about Lord Voldemort (the madman formerly known as Tom Marvolo Riddle), meets new characters such as Dobby, Arthur Weasley, Lucius Malfoy, Gilderoy Lockhart and Cornelius Fudge and has another adventure in the depths of Hogwarts.
Up next month: Prisoner of Azkaban!