At the Back of the North Wind (Christian Fiction Classics)
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At the Back of the North Wind (Christian Fiction Classics)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  3,397 ratings  ·  229 reviews
More than a century after it was written, George MacDonald's At the Back of the North Wind continues to intrigue readers with its allegorical treatment of life and death. The story of the young boy, Diamond, who meets the mysterious and beautiful North Wind explores, in the words of one reviewer, "the possibility of trusting cooperation with this awesome but benevolent for...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 1st 2005 by Barbour Publishing (first published 1871)
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Chris
3rd time reading this through. One of my favorite stories of all time, but honestly, I started to feel that I absorbed as much as I could for this time in my life. The thought occurred to me that I might read this once more before I die, and that’s it. We’ll see what the years bring.

It is a beautiful story. Profound. Sometimes playful and outlandish in a Lewis Carroll sort of way. Honestly, some parts feel like just another Victorian nickel-novel. But MacDonald always manages to take it beyond i...more
David Gregg
At the start, for the first half of it, I struggled to push my way through "At the Back of the North Wind." I thought it tedious and drawn out. But by the time I had waded into the middle, I found I was swimming.

I just finished this book, and I have to tell you, I have no way of using my tongue to convey how I feel and what this book has done in me. I sit without words, but without the ability to contain the rush of thought and emotion that crowd me on all sides. I look about and the only thing...more
Jessica
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mike
I am so delighted to have found this book amongst the treasures of project Guteberg. Thank goodness for public domain books and ebook readers! With the low price of admission, I find myself reading more and more books that I might not have otherwise taken the time to look up, or might not have remembered when I got to a library.

Once I started reading this book I couldn't put it down. However, as opposed to most books that pull you through solely with plot, I found myself going back and re-readin...more
Ginny
I last read this book when I was 9 or 10 years old. I remembered the portrayal of the North Wind as a beautiful, comforting woman, but was not able at that age to appreciate her mystical, spiritual significance. She now seems to me to be the embodiment of the spirit of love. I don't think she is Death, but that she incorporates some of the lovelier, reassuring aspects of death. I appreciate Diamond's gradual understanding of her explanation that she must sometimes do things that seem evil but th...more
D.M. Dutcher (Sword Cross Rocket)
It's a deep series of connected fairy tales that all share a central theme: that suffering is a part of life that God uses. Diamond is a sweet, innocent child who one night befriends the North Wind. He is blown by her many nights to intersect in the lives of a poor young girl abused by her grandmother, a wealthy philanthropist, and others. One day he travels to "the back of the north wind," a place full and rich, where everyone is "waiting for something better." He returns, and is changed, till...more
James Ryan
I recently had an intense, life-changing revelation. I nearly went insane and spent over 2 weeks in the hospital, diagnosed with hypermania. I found At The Back Of The North Wind in the hospital (I think left for a purpose), and it described my situation perfectly. I did not die/visit the back of the North Wind, but the North Wind was synonymous, for me, with the voice of God that resonated in my head, providing infinite wisdom. It turned me from a pond into a river, and all my fears and limits...more
Ashley
If you are the sort of person who only reads the first few sentences of a review, you'd better just look back at my rating to determine my opinion of this book, because I'm going to start out by saying critical things. However, the books I like best, like my favorite people, tend to be those which are beautiful in spite of their flaws.

I never know quite what to say about this story, and so usually I do not talk about it. It is considered a children's book, for such, I believe, the author intende...more
Miro
#underconstruction

George MacDonald's At the Back of the North Wind is as heart-warming as it is heart-breaking a tale of a pensive, seemingly simple-minded but pure boy named Diamond. His dearest friends include the cold, somewhat harsh and fleeting, but ever benevolent North Wind, an old horse after which his father gave Diamond his name, and an old and experienced wealthy gentleman fully aware of the boy's otherworldly qualities. As such, Diamond is hardly accepted by his peers as their equal,...more
Gale
GOD’S BABY


This children's classic would definitely be rejected by most modern kids--in fact, I had to force myself through the first third of the book, until the plot became more believable. Page after page of nonsense poetry and absurd adult-child conversations put me off. The Human story itself is pretty good: a frail, sickly, angelic boy of 7, son of a poor coachman in 19th century London, has the unique ability to charm those he meets, to touch the lives of children and adults alike, chang...more
Jesse Broussard
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Bridget West
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Ann
All metaphysic, theology, philosophy is as words signifying nothing compared to MacDonald's rendering of this tale. Part fairy story, part dream, poetry, apprehended here is a meaning of life and love such as you will not find in slmost any other book. The style is off-putting to some: tales within tales, a song here, a nursery rhyme there. But it is the story of Diamond, an angel child.who finds sanctification at the back of the north wind. Do you have anxiety justifying the trouble and triumph...more
Megan Fritts
MacDonald wrote this story for his children, and it was also the favorite book of Mark Twain's children. However, although this is a children's book, there is so much that adults can get from it. I found myself weeping in several spots, either from the depth of truth being presented, or from the simple childlikeness of little Diamond. Needless to say, when I have children, this will be a favorite in our house.
NC
My Vintage Book Circle chose this title. I'm glad because I've never read George MacDonald before. It has some of the elements of Pollyanna with a boy instead of a girl. Much more fantasy and not as down to earth. I'd like to read more about Mr MacDonald and the literature of his time. This feels like it is very much a product of the time.
Josa Young
Brilliant book. Read it as a child, loved it without understanding. Read it to my children and realised it is about death, and in particular children dying. Heartbreaking but also hopeful.
Nick
MacDonald achieves a kind of lighthearted solemnity in this tale that I find hard to nail down. As such, it is a beautifully mysterious story, full of startlingly vivid images worthy of a master illustrator. The edition I read (which corresponds to the one selected for this review) had illustrations that were understated enough to not obstruct the reader's own imaginative play. Some of these images, like Diamond's journey to the back of the North Wind, operate as a kind of double entendre for th...more
Tealen
This was a quirky little story about a boy who is friends with the North Wind. It is a good story, if a little strange at times.
Susan Hodgins
As a rule I love all George MacDonald books but this one if very poetic and I found it hard to follow.
David
A children's faerie story, or at least, it reads that way on the surface of it. But as with most George MacDonald, there's far more to it than that.

I've read a great deal of his work, and this was--to be honest--a little harder to get through than some. But throughout it, there's flashes of magic, insights into faith that are hidden away behind the language of a simple Victorian children's book.

Is it the best book ever? No, and not even MacDonald's best. It's too episodic, too varied in tone and...more
Audrey Michel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Fantasy Literature
George MacDonald wrote hundreds of stories throughout his lifetime (not surprising considering he had eleven kids!), most of which were fantasies that drew on a rich variety of sources: mythology, fairytales and Biblical mysticism. Credited by C.S. Lewis as the main inspiration behind The Chronicles of Narnia, MacDonald's dreamy little tales (especially this one) are a strange blend of frustrating ramblings and sublime imagery. Love it or hate it, At the Back of the North Wind encompasses the be...more
Taylor
I have never read a book quite like this. The ending was wonderful. I loved that. Some of the middle of it really seemed to drag. But there was a lot of creativity and truths. I think I would have to read it several times more for the truths to soak in.
Just from his books, I think George MacDonald was somebody I would have liked to meet. He was a deep thinker and a wonderful Christian. He also influenced many great writers, such as C.S. Lewis and Tolkien.
I also liked the short fairy tale that...more
Jendi
I had a hard time warming up to this book. I wanted to love it because MacDonald's "The Princess and Curdie" was one of my childhood favorites. The fantasy elements of the story are very original, whimsical yet deep, for the most part beautifully written, though there's too much tedious poetry interspersed. (I love poems, but not the kind that are in here.)

It's the book's philosophy that I struggle with. Your reaction will depend on whether you find it comforting, or morally offensive, to imagin...more
Adam
I sought out more of George MacDonald's fiction (a long while) after reading his exceedingly wonderful Phantastes. At the Back of the North Wind was filed in the library's juvenile fiction section, which should have tipped me off to what was to come. The book is 400 pages of light reading - it's meant to be read to children - and in some ways not a lot happens. The first section sets the stage for the rest of the book: Diamond is swept off on midnight rides by the beautiful, magical North Wind....more
Marci Christensen
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Chris
This review is specifically for the Young Reader's Christian Library abridged and revised version published by Barbour in 1991, illustrated by Ken Save.

First of all, let's make something clear for all you cotton headed ninny muggins out there. This is a child-friendly edition that has been abridged and updated with contemporary language for young readers. The original "At The Back Of The North Wind" was written for kids and adults...IN THE 19th CENTURY!! That's the 1800's...for all you cotton he...more
Mary Beth
At the Back of the North Wind certainly contained some beautiful, poignant imagery. It just wasn't as good, in my opinion, as some of MacDonald's other books (The Princess and the Goblin or The Wise Woman and Other Stories, for example). I think the fact the the book was published serially may account for some of the meanderings of the plot, and the plot did certainly meander! So much of the book could have been edited out.

However, you will do well if you can hold onto the central idea of the bo...more
Steffi
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Kerri
My eight-year-old son and I read a little more than half of this book as a literature selection for homeschool. It was a sweet book, but did not hold our interest, so we finally stopped.

There is one thing about this book that might raise a red flag for modern parents because it was written in a different time. The little boy in the book is very sweet, innocent, and obedient. He is spoken to one night by a voice outside his home, and then a lady appears, who is the North Wind. The little boy thin...more
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Was anyone else "blown away" by this book? 4 21 Aug 13, 2013 02:06PM  
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2413
George MacDonald was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister.

Known particularly for his poignant fairy tales and fantasy novels, George MacDonald inspired many authors, such as W. H. Auden, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Madeleine L'Engle. It was C.S. Lewis that wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his "master": "Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I be...more
More about George MacDonald...
The Princess and the Goblin The Princess and Curdie Phantastes The Light Princess Lilith

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“Only he knew that to be left alone is not always to be forsaken.” 39 likes
“Well, perhaps; but I begin to think there are better things than being comfortable.” 32 likes
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