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At the Back of the North Wind
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At the Back of the North Wind

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  5,632 Ratings  ·  372 Reviews
Diamond, son of a poor coachman, is swept away by the North Wind -- a radiant, maternal spirit with long, flowing hair. His life is transformed by a brief glimpse of the beautiful country -- at the back of the north wind.

This Victorian fairy tale has enchanted readers for more than a hundred years, and combines a Dickensian regard for the working class of mid-19th-century
Hardcover, 346 pages
Published October 16th 2001 by Everyman's Library (first published 1871)
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Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
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
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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
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
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
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
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.
D.M. Dutcher
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Josa Young
Oct 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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:
Ana Rînceanu
Cute, but not too cute. A little too long, but a solid wintertime read.
Peter Mountz
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
"There are few things good enough to be true," said Diamond; "but I hope this is. Too good to be true it can't be. Isn't true good? and isn't good good? And how, then, can anything be too good to be true?"


I will not describe the varied feelings of the party as they went, or when they arrived. All I will say is, that Diamond, who is my only care, was full of quiet delight - a gladness too deep to talk about.

The night before I finished this book I had a dream so vivid that I wrote it do
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, literature, own
Great story!! I had heard this story mentioned by many who were speaking about good literature and I was not disappointed. Overall, it is a long book (38 chapters), but most chapters are a nice length for a read-aloud, and there are about two or three parts to the story.

The story stretches your imagination and also brings you into close contact with a late 19th century historical setting in England. You follow a boy named Diamond through his young life and his interactions with his family and th
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Jesse Broussard
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aaron Cassidy
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
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
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it

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
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,
Sep 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
An odd little fantasy novel that is equal parts victorian fairy tale and Charlie Dickens social commentary.

A little boy named Diamond becomes friends with the Lady of the North Wind and ends up traveling across this world and at least one beyond this world and uses what he learns to deal with some things in the real world and help his family and other people around him.

It is about 50 pages longer than it needs to be and meanders a bit, but it's running theme of 'bad things happen and you can't a
Fantasy Literature
Jan 18, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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Was anyone else "blown away" by this book? 4 24 Aug 14, 2013 12:06AM  
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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 G.K. Chesterton, W. H. Auden, J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Madeleine L'Engle. Lewis wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his "master": "Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I bega
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