At the Back of the North Wind 
by George MacDonald

 

For anyone who has every wondered what our world might look like through an angel's eyes, there's no need to look any further than the classic children's story At the Back of the North Wind. Diamond, the lead character, has an angelic way about him, and seems able to work wonders in the lives of all the people he meets. He's a wonderful boy to get to know, because the story he tells in At the Back of the North Wind takes the reader to places unimaginably beautiful.


Diamond's simplicity leads some to say he's "silly," or that he's "got one tile loose." The narrator is wise enough, upon meeting the boy, to realize that this might just be true — but only if you apply an older meaning of the word "silly" than the one we generally use today. After all, the older connotation of the word had the meaning of "innocent," and that certainly applies to Diamond. As the narrator points out, the other term (meant by its users to be derogatory) often applied to Diamond may have been the best of all — "God's child."


MacDonald is a master story-teller, and a wonderful fabulist. At the Back of the North Wind is often known as his masterpiece, though I think there are several pieces that could vie for that title. Still, the view through the angel's eyes is well worth looking into — it is a surprisingly forgiving way of looking at our world.
 

Reviewed by Shelly Bryant @ 2010