What Miller finds there is refreshing. "Narnia is a country of literature, of books, and of reading, a territory so vast that it might as well be infinite." There is also C. S. Lewis as ironist; Lewis as an exemplar of friendship (Miller devotes much space to the real-life friendship between Lewis and Tolkien); Lewis as a writer of fairy tales to be enjoyed by adults.
It was Lewis the critic who noted, "A children's story which is only enjoyed by children is a bad children's story." I came as a full-fledged adult to Narnia (save for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe), to the Harry Potter series and to His Dark Materials - the two former in my guise as a parent, the Pullman books with no excuses. I now wonder, did reading these marvellous stories trigger my current impatience with many literary adult novels, or did a nascent boredom make me more susceptible to the charms of more engaging narratives?
The many childless adult visitors I know to Narnia, Middle-earth, Hogwart's and the worlds of His Dark Materials (Pullman might cringe to be included in this company) is a testament to the power of "story" at a time when, as Pullman himself said in a speech in 1995, "In adult literary fiction, stories are there on sufferance. ... The present-day would-be George Eliots take up their stories as if with a pair of tongs."
-from "In Defence of 'Fairy Tales'" by Zsuzsi Gartner, Globe & Mail, Feb. 7, 2009