This book is part of the fiber of my being. People sometimes get stuck on the Christianity to the point where they miss the magic. Lewis writes realistic magic (sort of the converse of magic realism) with spiffy little sparks of mundanity. For example, there’s the fact that you can’t really saw through rope with a sword because the blade is too blunt near the hilt and there’s no way to put enough pressure further up. These little details, plus social awkwardness and sibling rivalry, are how you know the adventures are real.
Theology lite is definitely there, but I actually think the WWII influence is more interesting. The White Witch’s joyless winter, full of spies and collaborators, feels completely fascist. The underground resistance, exemplified by the homey Beavers, is all pluck and England. Salvation comes from across the sea and, yes, it feels god-sent and destined. Not an accident; the children have been sent to the Professor’s house because London is being blitzed.
Ever since the movie came out, I’ve been scowling in bookstores everywhere when I see the new covers and (worse!) the renumbering.