Диана Джонс: Howl’s Moving Castle

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Диана Джонс Howl’s Moving Castle
  • Название:
    Howl’s Moving Castle
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  • Издательство:
    HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
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    Детская фантастика / на английском языке
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    NY 10019
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Howl’s Moving Castle: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots were everyday things. The Witch of the Waste was another matter. After fifty years of quiet, it was rumored that the Witch was about to terrorize the country again. So when a moving black castle, blowing dark smoke from its four thin turrets, appeared on the horizon, everyone thought it was the Witch. The castle, however, belonged to Wizard Howl, who, it was said, liked to suck the souls of young girls. The Hatter sisters–Sophie, Lettie, and Martha–and all the other girls were warned not to venture into the streets alone. But that was only the beginning. In this giant jigsaw puzzle of a fantasy, people and things are never quite what they seem. Destinies are intertwined, identities exchanged, lovers confused. The Witch has placed a spell on Howl. Does the clue to breaking it lie in a famous poem? And what will happen to Sophie Hatter when she enters Howl's castle? Diana Wynne Jones's entrancing fantasy is filled with surprises at every turn, but when the final stormy duel between the Witch and the Wizard is finished, all the pieces fall magically into place.

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Sophie could not believe Fanny was like that, but she let it pass. “But what about you?”

“Eat your cake,” said Martha. “It’s good. Oh, yes, I can be clever too. It only took me two weeks at Mrs. Fairfax’s to find the spell we’re using. I got up at night and read her books secretly, and it was easy really. Then I asked if I could visit my family and Mrs. Fairfax said yes. She’s a dear. She thought I was homesick. So I took the spell and came here, and Lettie went back to Mrs. Fairfax pretending to be me. The difficult part was the first week, when I didn’t know all the things I was supposed to know. It was awful. But I discovered that people like me-they do, you know, if you like them –and then it was all right. And Mrs. Fairfax hasn’t kicked Lettie out, so I suppose she managed too.”

Sophie chomped at cake she was not really tasting. “But what made you want to do this?”

Martha rocked on her stool, grinning all over Lettie’s face, twirling her thumbs in a happy pink whirl. “I want to get married and have ten children.”

“You’re not quite old enough!” said Sophie.

“Not quite,” Martha agreed. “But you can see I’ve got to start quite soon in order to fit ten children in. And this way gives me time to wait and see if the person I want likes me for being me . The spell’s going to wear off gradually, and I shall get more and more like myself, you see.”

Sophie was so astonished that she finished her cake without noticing what kind it had been. “Why ten children?”

“Because that’s how many I want,” Said Martha.

“I never knew!”

“Well, it wasn’t much good going on about it when you were so busy backing Mother up about me making my fortune,” Martha said. “You thought Mother meant it. I did too, until Father died and I saw she was just trying to get rid of us– putting Lettie where she was bound to meet a lot of men and get married off, and sending me as far away as she could! I was so angry I thought, Why not? And I spoke to Lettie and she was just as angry and we fixed it up. We’re fine now. But we both feel bad about you. You’re far too clever and nice to be stuck in that shop for the rest of your life. We talked about it, but we couldn’t see what to do.”

“I’m all right,” Sophie protested. “Just a bit dull.”

“All right?” Martha exclaimed. “Yes, you prove you’re all right by not coming near here for months, and then turning up in a frightful gray dress and shawl, looking as if even I scare you! What’s Mother been doing to you?”

“Nothing,” Sophie said uncomfortably. “We’ve been rather busy. You shouldn’t talk about Fanny that way, Martha. She is your mother.”

“Yes, and I’m enough like her to understand her,” Martha retorted. “That’s why she sent me so far away, or tried to. Mother knows you don’t have to be unkind to someone in order to exploit them. She knows how dutiful you are. She knows you have this thing about being a failure because you’re only the eldest. She’s managed you perfectly and got you slaving away for her. I bet she doesn’t pay you.”

“I’m still an apprentice,” Sophie protested.

“So am I, but I get a wage. The Cesaris know I’m worth it,” said Martha. “That hat shop is making a mint these days, and all because of you! You made that green hat that makes the Mayor’s wife look like a stunning schoolgirl, didn’t you?”

“Caterpillar green. I trimmed it,” said Sophie.

“And the bonnet Jane Farrier was wearing when she met that nobleman,” Martha swept on. “You’re a genius with hats and clothes, and Mother knows it! You sealed your fate when you made Lettie that outfit last May Day. Now you earn the money while she goes off gadding-“

“She’s out doing the buying,” Sophie said.

“Buying!” Martha cried. Her thumbs whirled. “That takes her half a morning. I’ve seen her, Sophie, and heard the talk. She’s off in a hired carriage and new clothes on your earnings, visiting all the mansions down the valley! They’re saying she’s going to buy that big place down at Vale End and set up in style. And where are you?”

“Well, Fanny’s entitled to some pleasure after all her hard work bringing us up,” Sophie said. “I suppose I’ll inherit the shop.”

“What a fate!” Martha exclaimed. “Listen-“

But at that moment two empty cake racks were pulled away at the other end of the room, and an apprentice stuck his head through from the back somewhere “Thought I heard your voice, Lettie,” he said, grinning in the most friendly and flirtatious way. “The new baking’s just up. Tell them.” His head, curly and somewhat floury, disappeared again. Sophie thought he looked a nice lad. She longed to ask if he was the one Martha really liked, but she did not get a chance. Martha sprang up in a hurry, still talking.

“I must get the girls to carry all these through to the shop.” She said. “Help me with the end of this one.” She dragged out the nearest rack and Sophie helped her hump it past the door into the roaring, busy shop. “You must do something about yourself, Sophie,” Martha panted as they went. “Lettie kept saying she didn’t know what would happen to you when we weren’t around to give you some self-respect. She was right to be worried.”

In the shop Mrs. Cesari seized the rack from them in both massive arms, yelling instructions, and a line of people rushed away past Martha to fetch more. Sophie yelled goodbye and slipped away in the bustle. It did not seem right to take up more of Martha’s time. Besides, she wanted to be alone to think. She ran home. There were fireworks now, going up from the field by the river where the Fair was, competing with the blue bangs from Howl’s castle. Sophie felt more like an invalid than ever.

She thought and thought, and most of the following week, and all that happened was that she became confused and discontented. Things just did not seem to be the way she thought they were. She was amazed at Lettie and Martha. She had misunderstood them for years. But she could not believe Fanny was the kind of woman Martha said.

There was a lot of time for thinking, because Bessie duly left to be married and Sophie was mostly alone in the shop. Fanny did seem to be out a lot, gadding or not, and trade was slack after May Day. After three days Sophie plucked up enough courage to ask Fanny, “Shouldn’t I be earning a wage?”

“Of course, my love, with all you do!” Fanny answered warmly, fixing on a rose-trimmed hat in front of the shop mirror. “We’ll see about it as soon as I’ve done the accounts this evening.” Then she went out and did not come back until Sophie had shut the shop and taken that day’s hats through to the house to trim.

Sophie at first felt mean to have listened to Martha, but when Fanny did not mention a wage, either that evening or any time later that week, Sophie began to think that Martha had been right.

“Maybe I am being exploited,” she told a hat she was trimming with red silk and a bunch of wax cherries, “but someone has to do this or there will be no hats at all to sell.” She finished that hat and started on a stark black-and-white one, very modish, and a quite new thought came to her. “Does it matter if there are no hats to sell?” she asked it. She looked round at the assembled hats, on stands or waiting in a heap to be trimmed. “What good are you all?” she asked them. “You certainly aren’t doing me a scrap of good.”

And she was within an ace of leaving the house and settling out to seek her fortune, until she remembered she was the eldest and there was no point. She took up the hat again, sighing.

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