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Aunt Maria

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,745 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews

In Cranbury-on-Sea Aunt Maria rules with a rod of sweetness far tougher than iron and deadlier than poison. Strange and awful things keep happening in Cranbury. Why are all the men apparently gray-suited zombies? Why do all the children -- if you ever see them -- behave like clones? And what has happened to Mig's brother, Chris? Could gentle, civilized Aunt Maria, with her

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 14th 2003 by HarperColl (first published 1991)
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Malo znam pisaca koji toliko nisu imali sreće s naslovnim stranama svojih knjiga kao Dajana Vin Džouns. Crna Marija (a ovaj naslov je zapravo aluzija na pikovu damu), sudeći po ovim koricama, jeste knjiga za mlađu decu, o nekoj simpatičnoj veštičici. Jeste, đavola.
Ako ste ikada imali blizak dodir sa pasivno-agresivnom osobom od koje niste mogli da pobegnete glavom bez obzira jer vam je neki rod - u strina-Mariji ćete je prepoznati u roku od prve dve-tri strane. Još toliko i roman koji je počeo k
Dec 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: court jester parrots
Recommended to Mariel by: Miriam
I think it was then that it dawned on me that Mum wasn't going to notice Chris was missing. She has been made so that she thinks Chris is just round the corner all the time. She doesn't realise that she never sees him. I don't know why I didn't understand earlier. If Aunt Maria can turn Chris into a wolf, she's surely strong enough to do this to Mum- except that it seems a different kind of thing, much more natural and ordinary, and I didn't really think she could do both kinds.

Old Aunt Maria's
Here, Jones examines the workings of families and the relationship between the sexes. After her father's car goes over a cliff, Mig, her brother Chris, and their mother go to stay with Mig's Aunt Maria in the little town of Cranbury-on-Sea, but they quickly realize that all is not as it seems to be: the women, under Aunt Maria's rod of iron, rule the town, the men almost all act like zombies, and the only children are locked away in an orphanage. Along with the characteristically inventive story ...more
So that was my last DWJ, sigh. I suppose I'll have to start buying them now.

I think because my edition has an awful, awful cover, I didn't like this book when I first read it, years and years ago. This was only the second time I've read it, and naturally it was very good. Not one of her best, I think, but DWJ's worst is better than, I would say, pretty much all of the children's literature being published today.
Deborah O'Carroll
10(ish) Thoughts on “Aunt Maria”

1. First thing’s first: Time travel! There was a bit of time travel near the end of the book, which was SUPER awesome! I will not say anything more about it, but suffice to say that it was fabulous.

2. It’s told in first person by Mig, a girl who likes to write (kindred soul!). She tells us the story in her journal. I don’t always care for first-person, but I really liked how it was her journal! It gave the story such an immediate feeling and all the descriptions e
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-mg
Terrifying and perfect. I want to write a 10-book thesis about gender in this book.
Aug 14, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Well, the cover is slightly misleading in a bibbity-bobbity way.

I initially thought of just letting that be my review, but that wouldn't really help someone who hasn't read this book with this cover. If you have, then you know it's rather like seeing a poster for The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue used as the cover of Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. I prefer the demented version of the titular character from the German version, but I digress.

Mig, her brother Chris, and their mum are poli
Nesa Sivagnanam
Jan 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's this idea that books for children and young adults are meant to be read by children and young adults. I don't know what that says about me as I'm very fond of these books, sometimes choosing them over books meant for adults.

Wynne Jones has always been someone whose books I've liked and Black Maria is no exception. She builds her characters well. I could clearly see Mig and her family. Mig always trying for a happy ending even if her idea of a happy ending is not the same as that of the p
If I didn't already love DWJ, I wouldn't have finished this. The writing style, the humour, the feeling of it all going to pot and then safety at the last second-that was all her. But it was grown up. Darker. A little crazier. More like 8 Days of Luke than her normal fantasy stuff. And while I enjoyed how she played with the traditional myths in Luke, I didn't like this one so well. Maybe it's because I didn't know so much about the legends she pulled from this time-it was hard going-and like sh ...more
Jun 22, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Wynne-Jones when I was young so it was great to see that the writing does stand up to adult scrutiny. The story was pacy and exciting - she's a past master at suckering the reader in. And the tone was just right - the child narrator didn't sound stilted or unrealistic.

However, the story has dated a little. I think one of the problems is that Wynne-Jones has decided to deal with "issues" - fatal, really. Briefly to explain, the town has been divided along gender lines. The women are in co
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopia, children
гендерний розподіл у цій книжці експериментальний і напружений, але мені так і не вдалося проникнути в його глибший сенс. в основі світу лежить щось, про що не зрозуміло, навіщо воно було, і це трохи псує враження від загалом приємної книжки з активним сюжетом. з дорослими антиутопіями таке не те щоб не проходить, однак у них автори докладають якось більше зусиль до обґрунтування світу й подій у ньому (часом із посереднім успіхом, але все-таки), а тут працює магія, тож, вочевидь, усе можна списа ...more
A classic DWJ, with great character interactions and intriguing ideas. I liked the mystery and adventure and process of discovery. However I felt like there needed to be more 'wrapping up' at the end.
Pam Baddeley
Apr 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mig, who writes stories and keeps a journal to document her experiences, tells how she, her brother Chris and their mum, are spending the Easter holidays at the home of aunt Maria who lives by the sea. Their father, who had left to live with another woman, has recently been killed in a car accident while on the way to visit the aunt.

It soon becomes apparent that Maria is a master manipulator and loves nothing more than to have Mig and her family dancing attendance on her. And she is a queen bee
Sep 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dad perished when his car fell off a cliff when he was going to visit Great Aunt Maria, his aunt by marriage. That after he ran away from home with a blonde named Verena Bland. Dad’s misadventures were terrible enough, but then Mig and her brother Chris found out that Mum had decided that they would stay with Aunt Maria during Easter holiday to help her. She was so old and feeble (according to her and her neighbours), and her servant had to leave in a hurry, so her relatives would be very helpfu ...more
Imaginative, creepy in places, question-raising and altogether refreshing. The story did take some time to start properly, but perhaps we had to be immersed in the mind-numbing boredom Mig and Chris are going through.
A light but quality read. It may be even sufficiently characterized by all things that it is not:
* for children, but not dumbed down
* first-person, but not Mary Sue
* taking on the gender difference question and not muffing it
* using magic, but not as a plot device or totally withou
Julie Davis
Aug 05, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Diving back into the stack of Diana Wynne Jones books from my kind friend who evidently has an endless supply.
In Cranbury-on-Sea Aunt Maria rules with a rod of sweetness far tougher than iron and deadlier than poison. Strange and awful things keep happening in Cranbury. Why are all the men apparently gray-suited zombies? Why do all the children -- if you ever see them -- behave like clones? And what has happened to Mig's brother, Chris? Could gentle, civilized Aunt Maria, with her talk and daily
Jane Lebak
Oct 15, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-and-mg
I love Diana Wynne Jones' books. I've read everything I could get my hands on, but I have to admit, the ending ruined the entire book for me.

The beginning and middle of this book really had my heart--a real page-turner. The characters' plight is gripping, and Aunt Maria is the most hateful villain I've had the pleasure of reading. The main characters are very self-determined when they get motivated. When the mother stops remembering her own son, my heart was broken. But the ending felt horribly
Nov 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was totally with this book right up until the very end, which I thought wrapped things up too quickly and too neatly. And although to be completely fair, it does fit with the general conceit of the book being was written by a girl who loves stories with happy endings, it did pull me out of the story very abruptly. Also, the book does present some pretty interesting thoughts on gender relations, and the inherently problematic nature of differentiating between sexes, but they are never really fu ...more
Children's modern fantasy. Mig, her mother and her brother Chris are gently connived into going to visit their great aunt Maria (pronounced Mar-eye-ah) in a village by the sea, in which she rules with lace curtains and gentility. There's something wrong with the village, though. The men and women seem to be at war, the children all look like clones, and Mig and Chris' dad, who's supposed to be dead, seems to be driving around town.

I first read this one one before I was obsessed with Diana Wynne
Nov 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-loved, ya-lit
Another one of my favorites, Black Maria (sometimes published as Aunt Maria in the USA) is about how far people will go to manage other people and how to resist being managed. But it's a lot more fun than that sounds - Aunt Maria is an awesome creation who gets people to do what she wants through both magic and good old fashioned manipulation and guilt-tripping. Mig, Chris and their mother are only supposed to stay in Cranbury-on-Sea for a few days over Easter, but when Chris starts seeing a gho ...more
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dwj
This is the first DWJ book that I've read written in the first person and it is fantastic. It's got just the right amount of everything. As always, DWJ manages to combine perfectly fantasy and real life drama, even if the part of the real life issues are a bit dated (the gender roles, mostly) while very rigid in DWJ's day are less so now.

Compared to Fire and Hemlock, Aunt Maria wraps up nicely in the end, but DWJ does tend to leave her endings a bit open, ambiguous, and not completely happy. Th
Emily Collins
Oct 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk-authors
Why is this called Black Maria? Why is my copy NOT called Black Maria? Is it because I'm American? Darn it.
Very good! One of her shorter books, it's sat in my bookshelf for years and I'm not sure if I've read it before. Horribly exciting and magic and a little nerve wracking because I kept expecting everyone to die.
Maria made me was to punch something. Teddy-bearish my foot.
I hated the boys versus girls thing, though. Mostly because Mig just wanted to help and Mr. Phelps was such an a-hole to h
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book, but there was quite a bit of colloquial language that I didn't understand. Probably because I'm not British :)
Aug 29, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-books
This is a pretty good fantasy, but kind of dark for younger children. It was kind of hard to follow sometimes, but was overall a good book.
Nathan Dehoff
When looking at a list of titles that Jones wrote, I sometimes forget which ones I’ve already read until I see plot descriptions. This is one I hadn’t read until a few months ago, and it’s apparently called Black Maria in other countries. It’s about a divorced mother and her children who go to stay with her helpless-seeming aunt-in-law, who turns out to actually be a witch who has a reign of terror over the small seaside community where she lives. There’s a fairly convoluted conspiracy that I ha ...more
Anna Hepworth
Black Maria is probably not one of her better works, although it may be that I'm the wrong age to get the message in the right way - it felt very much like I was being hit over the head with the elements of the story, and the gender politics (very much the feeling I get when reading some of the Sherri S Tepper). I do like the fact that the main character is female, teenaged, *and* has agency. Yes, she gets other people to help her, but it works. I found the attitude of the mother very frustratin ...more
Amy Miller
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Black Maria had one of the most frightening characters I have encountered in literature in a long while, and this is me saying this after reading Perdido Street Station. I honestly found Aunt Maria more terrifying.

That said, this was not one of my favorite books of Diana Wynne Jones. I found one of the plot elements difficult to accept and that threw a wrench into my enjoyment. On the other hand, DWJ requires careful reading, so I very well may have missed an important clue.

DWJ is always fun, we
Enjoyable and with surprising depth. Another wonderful DWJ story!
Black Maria is about a girl named Mig, whose family goes to take care of her grandmother and somehow can't leave because her grandmother, Black Maria, rules the town by manipulation. It's a very strange town, with women versus men in everything, including magic and all power plays being very subtle. Black Maria is honestly one of the most despicable characters DWJ has ever created. I wouldn't say it was fun to read, but it is interesting, as is everything DWJ writes.
An Odd1
Jan 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
"But it's no good thinking happy endings just happen" p 136. Fleeting "little jabs of sanity in a vast numb desert of boredom" p 181. "So now you know, you won't very often be deceived by your expectations" p 203. Clouded up by a clutter of cast. Mrs Urs have many Misters.

Mig (Naomi Margaret Laker) journals Easter visit to expert guilt-manipulator Great Aunt Maria in Cranbury, where Dad Greg drove off cliff. Mig seems 8-11, submissive, tearful. One of the funniest passages is her as a kitten "w
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Diana was born in London, the daughter of Marjorie (née Jackson) and Richard Aneurin Jones, both of whom were teachers. When war was announced, shortly after her fifth birthday, she was evacuated to Wales, and thereafter moved several times, including periods in Coniston Water, in York, and back in London. In 1943 her family finally settled in Thaxted, Essex, where her parents worked running an ed ...more
More about Diana Wynne Jones...
“There goes Mig with her happy endings again," Chris said. But I don't care. I like happy endings. And I asked Chris why something should be truer just because it's unhappy. He couldn't answer.” 2 likes
“What's the good of being civilized, that's what I'd like to know? It just means other people can break the rules and you can't.” 1 likes
More quotes…