Skip to content

Guest blogger: Joanne Austen Brown

1 August 2021

Each of us will look at all the books that we have read and say ‘Yes, there is one book that has affected me more than any other.’ For some it will be a spiritual experience, for others a chance to lose themselves in another world. And yet another may want to change the way we see the world that we live in.

I am not wanting to reach into the deepest parts of our being, but touch on the books that have changed us and that we are glad they have.

For me that book was Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

For me, who loves history, fell head long into this world and was lost but oh in a very good way.

Suddenly I saw an author who went his own way and created his own world in part to make sense of the world he had found himself in. He had lost dear friends during the First World War. And I personally can see how he deals with their loss when you read the book. It is deeply significant for him. They were a group of young gentlemen who wanted to change the world. Their names were Rob Gilson, Geoffrey Bache Smith and Christopher Wiseman, and of course Tolkien. They met at King Edward’s School and the four of them formed an informal group, known as TCBS. The initials stood for Tea Club and Barrovian Society. The loved to meet at a tea shop near the school. They loved literature and education and felt that was the way to change the world? With the loss of two of the four, Tolkien I feel had a mission.

I don’t think Tolkien would ever admit that losing his friends gave him a burden to do something wonderful and meaningful to change the world. But I believe that pressure was there. The loss of two great minds made him feel that pressure. Did he achieve that goal? More than he could ever have imagined. He created new languages. Elvish, the language of the dwarves and the speak of Mordor. And oh, so much more. You know that you can now get a degree in Elvish? I don’t think Tolkien would ever have imagined that.

And Middle Earth. A world that some have compared to the folklore that the British Isles never had. I am sure that Tolkien had asked himself what would Britain have looked like had the French never invaded their shores? Where would the Anglo Saxons had taken the country? In some respects, Middle Earth is a picture of what Tolkien had imagined it could have been like.

Is that wrong? Of course not. Middle Earth is wondrous and an author dream. How many others have tried to create their own worlds as Tolkien had? Many. Some have achieved great worlds, other fade into insignificance. To me Tolkien created the greatest new world. But to deal with the same things that we deal with in our own life. Believe me there are family members I know who could fall into the world of the orcs and be most comfortable. But themes of friendship, or mateship, as well as family, love and loss. A heraldic story. He doesn’t pull any punches you might say.

I have to also thank Peter Jackson for creating a great movie version. Tolkien was his hero too.

One of the greatest influences was the happy ending. Yes, it does have a happy ending. Sam gets to marry his first love, the dwarves get back their kingdom, and Arwen and Aragorn get together too. That alone is a great love story. I know that many great characters had to die, but Tolkien makes it clear that those left behind must create a future their friends would be proud of. There is also the fact that the Shire was saved. Perhaps Frodo could have married etc. but his going to the Grey Havens and on to the Undying Lands, was for him a relief and peace. So, I consider it a happy ending. All things end well for the good guys and that lifts my spirit.

I recently received a letter from a fan. Yes, it was a letter. Very old school. And it was a gentleman in his 8os. He said ‘You were able to plan a story, set in an older generation with such realism. It is remarkable and you did not pull any punches. Do keep writing.’

That makes me feel I have done Tolkien proud. I too do not pull punches and tell it like it is. Well, at least I like to think so.

I have read The Lord of the Rings 16 times in 45 years. That works out at once every two years and eight months. I try to read it every couple of years. I still find elements that move me or that I had forgotten.

You can find Joanne here: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Always Elspeth

Tragedy has followed Elspeth.

​Hoping for a new life she moves to the Isle of Skye. Can the society that she hates leave her to start again? What she cannot see is someone who is following her.

James has loved her all his life. Elspeth rejected him once but now she may be tempted to try love again. But in the shadows, someone is stalking her.

Can James and Elspeth renew the love they once had?

And make it stronger? Or will the darkness overtake them?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: