I FINISHED re-reading Diana Wynne Jones’s Hexwood several days ago, and I’m happy to say that it was quite a painless experience.
I’m not suggesting that my previous re-reads of Hexwood have been unpleasant. However, this is a challenging book, probably the most challenging of all Jones’s novels (and they tend to be gorgeously, meatily complex things), and I admit that it’s taken me a while to totally get it.
The problem is that I sometimes (often) skim-read. You can’t skim-read Hexwood. You can’t read it while also watching a tennis match, or even a fluffy chick-flick. Well, you can, and you’ll be able to follow what’s going on in the tennis match and the movie, but you’ll be clueless as far as Hexwood is concerned.
I skimmed Hexwood when I first read it, and I wound up horribly, horribly lost, and with a killer headache to boot. Naturally, I was more cautious on my second attempt, but I believe I was still in too much of a hurry, so I didn’t totally get it then either.
Thankfully, I found that the story finally made sense, on my third attempt, with all the details clicking perfectly, satisfyingly into place.
If you haven’t yet got around to reading Hexwood, remember to pay attention when you do. And if you haven’t got around to anything by Diana Wynne Jones, you might want to start with something a little less mind- as well as time-bendy.
(My first DWJ was The Time of the Ghost, which I shall be re-reading in due course as I have decided that it’s time for me to revisit selected DWJ titles. My first time with Ghost was by no means a case of perfect understanding either, but, you know, that’s what I love about Diana Wynne Jones. She’s not for lazy sissies. She makes you work. And she gives you plenty to think about. When you’re stumped by a DWJ novel, you know it’s because you missed something, weren’t paying enough attention, or reading too carelessly. It’s never about bad writing, plotting or character- and world-building.)
This is my fifth or sixth re-read, but it’s probably my most thorough. I took more than two months to finish the book and I read verrrry slowly, not more than 10 pages at a go. I paid attention the whole time I read; and I considered what I’d read in between reads. I think this is the way to tackle Hexwood. For me, at least.
I’ve promised my friend and fellow DWJ fangirl, Marisa, that I’ll be blogging about re-reading DWJ and so, there’ll be another Hexwood post coming up shortly. Read about Marisa’s experiences re-reading DWJ here.
(I’m wondering if ‘Re-reads’ should be a category on this blog. I certainly do a lot of it.)