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At the Back of the North Wind

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  5,922 ratings  ·  411 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 force ...more
Paperback, 317 pages
Published December 31st 2005 by Barbour Publishing (first published 1871)
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3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,922 ratings  ·  411 reviews

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Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
James Ryan
Jun 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Camy An
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me awhile to read this...I am a busy mom and it was important for me to find the time to read and savor this in silence (which doesn't always happen for me). I was disappointed when I couldn't take the time to read this book. It is beautifully written. It is a fairy tale for both adults and children. It makes me want to be like Diamond, not fearing anything and living in the moment. Would read it again.

George MacDonald is so descriptive in his writing. At times it seemed as if I was the
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May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: daniel
I like George MacDonald's books very much, and this particular one because of its beautiful and dreamlike way to face life. "Some children are profound in metaphysics", he says at some point.
This book contains also the fairy tale "Little Daylight", inspired in the Sleeping Beauty.

My son enjoyed the story while it was happening, but didn't like the ending. He wants Diamond to return again from the Back of the North Wind.
Janith Pathirage
I respect the book a great deal for being such a classic, but to me it was bit boring (Is it just me or the North Wind ?). Don't think even as a kid I enjoyed this one that much. Yes, I was yawning all the time. And I was a big fan of Hal and Roger Hunt back then. Anyway, I personally believe the story is too lengthy for a children's book, specially for such a theme. If it had only 200 pages, this would have looked bit more interesting. And I hated North Wind every time she appeared. A very anno ...more
Megan Fritts
Feb 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ko biết viết gì về cuốn sách này. Có lẽ vì mình đoán đc cái kết của nó, Con trời thì phải về trời thôi. Truyện có nhiều tình tiết khá nghiệt ngã nên chắc ko dành cho trẻ em đc, dù cuộc phưu lưu cũng khá hay. Mình cảm giác mạch truyện ko đều, thiếu thiếu cái gì đó. Cũng may đọc truyện này vào giữa hè, hình dung đọc vào giữa lúc gió mùa đông bắc thì rét lắm
D.M. Dutcher
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
Feb 13, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hate to say this as I love Victorian literature, but this book is boring as hell. I could barely finish it, much to my dismay. I usually kind of enjoy slow paced novels, but this was really rather torturous. sorry to those who enjoyed this, but I disliked it.
Josa Young
Oct 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 06, 2015 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wanda by: Laura
6 DEC 2015 - recommendation through Laura. Many Thanks!

Free download:
Cute, but not too cute. A little too long, but a solid wintertime read.
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
I first met little Diamond and the North Wind when I was about ten, and I don’t remember what I thought then of this moralistic Victorian fairytale with its beautiful and frightening visions of life. Read now, the book seems insistently didactic and dated. And despite Diamond’s wonderful adventures with the North Wind, I didn’t care for the manipulative behavior of some supposedly “good” characters.
Jesse Broussard
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Aaron Cassidy
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At the Back of the North Wind is a rare, wonderful gem of a book. Written by George MacDonald, it is about a boy named Diamond who makes the acquaintance of an extraordinary supernatural being named North Wind, a lady who is evidently exactly what her name suggests. Full of wonder and mystery, she leads Diamond on a number of adventures. The most notable of these leads Diamond to a land at her back, hence the title. It is in venturing here that Diamond is transformed. He becomes very wise, matur ...more
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
Erica Miles
Mar 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another exquisite tapestry of a fairy tale by the renowned 19th century Scottish minister and theologian, George MacDonald, who, according to his biography, lost several of his own children to early death, due to the appalling childhood mortality which was just a fact of existence during MacDonald's lifetime. This highly intelligent and educated author's child-like, unquestioning faith in a traditional Christian God, despite his own many losses and suffering, resulted in a faith in a God, who, t ...more

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
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: phantasies

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,
Peter Mountz
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When stemware is struck it emits a certain mechanical vibratory frequency. If that exact tone is returned to the same stemware, it will induce a vibration in it, and with enough amplitude, that stemware will shatter. In exactly the same way, George MacDonald's lyrical tone, the living spirits of his characters, and the subtle but profound insights he offers induced in my own heart its long overdue resonant frequency. But, although the glass of my heart is thick and hard to fribillate, MacDonald' ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I wish I could write a review that would convey the dream-like beauty of this achingly lovely tale. A boy is taken to the back of the North Wind and is never the same again. He yearns to go back to that land where the river sings a song that haunts him when he comes back to his earthly life. Everyone who knows him can tell that he is different from other people; he seems to think that dreams are truer than reality and they derisively call him "God's Baby," although he likes the name.

MacDonald wa
Evan Hays
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Some children are profound at metaphysics." That's a quote from the last chapter that sums up the book pretty well.

As with most MacDonald, it was a tough yet beautiful read in parts. I could see all again McDonald's influence on the thinking of Lewis and others. There is just this unwavering faith in God and the path He leads us on that is such a good reminder to me.

A far longer book than it needed to be with lots of stories within stories, but I do like how McDonald's characters are real, ofte
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Was anyone else "blown away" by this book? 4 26 Aug 13, 2013 02:06PM  

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George MacDonald was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister.

He was educated at Aberdeen University and after a short and stormy career as a minister at Arundel, where his unorthodox views led to his dismissal, he turned to fiction as a means of earning a living. He wrote over 50 books.

Known particularly for his poignant fairy tales and fantasy novels, MacDonald inspired many authors, such
“Only he knew that to be left alone is not always to be forsaken.” 68 likes
“For that great Love speaks in the most wretched and dirty hearts; only the tone of its voice depends on the echoes of the place in which it sounds.” 25 likes
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