I remember travelling in Bali when I was 13 and reading The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones. I absolutely loved her quartet of Dalemark books, and named a wooden puppet that I bought after one of the characters. I think they remain some of my favourites of her novels (they are much creased and bent from re-reading), although I also love the Chrestomanci series, which were some of the first books of hers I ever read.
Over the years I have read almost everything Diane Wynne Jones ever wrote. When I read about her death this morning, I went and looked at my bookshelves, and counted 15 of her books there – one of my biggest author collections, rivalled only by Terry Pratchett.
Diana wrote about some of my favourite romantic relationships – Howl and Sophie in Howl’s Moving Castle spring to mind, of course – and she wrote wonderful magical fantasy with such wit and humour. A particularly British type of fantasy.
Last year Tansy Rayner-Roberts wrote a lovely letter to Diana Wynne Jones after she heard that she was discontinuing treatment for her cancer, and I love reading about her favourite books – I think every one of Diana’s fans will have their own vivid mental image of Chrestomanci in his glorious dressing gowns. Robin McKinley describes Diana’s stories as frisky and exuberant, and that’s exactly right – her stories are so joyous and funny.
Although I haven’t loved her later books as much as her earlier ones (probably partly because I am reading them for the first time as an adult), I am still terribly sad that she won’t be writing any more. And after pulling all her books out of the bookshelves this morning I have an urge to do some re-reading – it’s been years since I read the Dalemark books. And The Magicians of Caprona. And Time City. Perhaps I just need to re-read them all.