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Clues From JKR's Favorite Books



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  #1  
Old January 20th, 2007, 7:33 pm
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Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

This is a topic that fascinates me - what does our favorite author like to read, and how have these writers influenced JKR?

She has always been open about which authors she prefers, from childhood till now. She has made published lists, and also talked about these books in interviews. Recently a new version of SS/PS in Britain included another list. So I'll just post all the lists we have:

http://books.guardian.co.uk/children...698794,00.html

Books Every Child Should Read Before Leaving School:

Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl
Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe
David Copperfield Charles Dickens
Hamlet William Shakespeare
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
Animal Farm George Orwell
The Tale of Two Bad Mice Beatrix Potter
The Catcher in the Rye JD Salinger
Catch-22 Joseph Heller


http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/indext.php

From Intro to New Edition of Philosopher's Stone:

From J.K. Rowling:
Children's Book
It's a three way tie between
"The Story of the Treasure Seekers" by Edith Nesbit, for the character of Oswald,
"Manxmouse" by Paul Gallico, for its wistful, magical tone, and
"The Little White Horse" by Elizabeth Goudge, for its plain, vain heroine.

Classic
"Emma" by Jane Austen, for the incomparable characterisation, the humour of so much self-delusion and the Churchill/ Fairfax twist.

Contemporary book
It changes monthly, but the last novel I fell in love with was "Arthur and George" by Julian Barnes, and the last piece of non-fiction I couldn't put down was "Assassination Vacation" by Sarah Vowell.

Top 10
"Emma" by Jane Austen
"Chéri" by Colette
"The Garden Party" by Katherine Mansfield
"Middlemarch" by George Elliot
"Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov
"David Copperfield" by Charles Dickens
"I Capture the Castle" by Dodie Smith
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
"The Van" by Roddy Doyle
"Tender is the Night" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

We could start out talking about Jane Austen. I notice that JKR mentions "self-delusion" as something she enjoys reading about. Emma is certainly "Clueless" - and some of you may have seen the movie of the same name based on Emma.

When Harry misunderstands Tonks's feelings for Lupin, assuming she is in grief over Sirius - that is a true "Emma" moment.


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Old January 20th, 2007, 7:49 pm
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

I always like seeing Catch-22 on that first list. It's one of my favorite books. While the plot is very different from HP, I think JKR and Heller write about death in a similar way, in that it is an extremely disturbing thing and can affect people very deeply.

Wuthering Heights...well, we were mentioning it on the "Snape: Byronic Hero" thread. Definitely some similarities there.


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Old January 20th, 2007, 7:57 pm
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

Quote:
Originally Posted by silver ink pot View Post
We could start out talking about Jane Austen. I notice that JKR mentions "self-delusion" as something she enjoys reading about. Emma is certainly "Clueless" - and some of you may have seen the movie of the same name based on Emma.

When Harry misunderstands Tonks's feelings for Lupin, assuming she is in grief over Sirius - that is a true "Emma" moment.
It is very Churchill/Fairfax. I wondered at the time whether Lupin/Tonks was JKR's little homage to that twist, and her comment here seems to confirm it. It's a typical JKR twist - one answer solving several outstanding mysteries - but this time, it applied to a romance.

The romance in HP is often written comedically - Harry/Cho is full of misunderstandings and misinterpretation, as is Ron/Hermione, especially in HBP. JKR also seems to have gone for a very Austen approach in that her characters are all with the wrong people at first - Cho, Krum, Fleur/Lavender - and don't end up with the right people until the very end (as it will be). After all, that's where the great tension is to be found in romance - when a couple is together, it's much more boring. Hence Harry/Ginny being split up.

It's interesting to see just how wide JKR's range of reading is. Looking at these books, there are certain elements that I can definitely see in HP. The vivid imagination of Roald Dahl, the life of an oppressed orphan in David Copperfield, the teenage anger of Catcher in the Rye, the dark humour of Catch-22 and the humorous approach to romance of the Austen novels - all from totally different genres. When you consider that she has also talked of being influenced by the surreal comedy of Monty Python and the darkly witty songs of The Smiths, her range of influences is incredibly wide.

And I'm pleased to see her list of books kids should read before they leave school, because they are almost all stories I have read and loved at school or university.


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Old January 20th, 2007, 8:42 pm
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

With both Emma and To Kill a Mockingbird you can see where she got the device of the unreliable narrative viewpoint from. There's a lot of similarities between Dumbledore and Atticus - supremely wise and tolerant, standing up 100% against hatred and prejudice, but prepared to give the children in his care freedom to make their own mistakes.

I'm interested to see Hamlet in the list. Am I alone in seeing parallels between Harry's relationship with Snape and Hamlet's relationship with Claudius? Harry, like Hamlet, has lost a father under treacherous circumstances. As Hamlet did with Claudius, he hates and resents Snape even before he knows that he had a hand in his father's death (and in the deaths of his two father figures, Dumbledore and Sirius).


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Old January 20th, 2007, 8:47 pm
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

Nice thread SIP

Well I have read Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility,I read Emma but it was some years back. The plotline is about all the misunderstandings of love,which seems to be something JKR really likes.

Emma playing the matchmaker but never realizing that her true love was always there in the form of her best friend Mr. Knightley.

I could see Emma and George's relationship being somewhat like Ron and Herrmione's with exception that Emma is wealthy and Ron is poor. Hermione being the one who has always liked Ron but at the same time isn't above scolding him if he needs it.


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Old January 20th, 2007, 9:16 pm
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

Quote:
Originally Posted by Face of Boe
The romance in HP is often written comedically - Harry/Cho is full of misunderstandings and misinterpretation, as is Ron/Hermione, especially in HBP. JKR also seems to have gone for a very Austen approach in that her characters are all with the wrong people at first - Cho, Krum, Fleur/Lavender - and don't end up with the right people until the very end (as it will be). After all, that's where the great tension is to be found in romance - when a couple is together, it's much more boring. Hence Harry/Ginny being split up.
Good point - there is quote from JKR somewhere in which she said she enjoyed GoF because no one is with the right person.

I admit that Emma - out of all of Jane Austen's heroines - bothers my the most, because she is irritatingly dense. Of course, people say the same about Harry sometimes. The reason we can forgive them both is that they are young and inexperienced in the ways of the world. The same can be said for Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. We see the world through her eyes as she comes to terms with the good and bad in everyone, and realizes that the "best of families" - such as the Darcy's - also have bad connections and extremely obnoxious people - Lady Catherine DeBerg, for instance, to name my favorite horrible person.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melaszka View Post
With both Emma and To Kill a Mockingbird you can see where she got the device of the unreliable narrative viewpoint from. There's a lot of similarities between Dumbledore and Atticus - supremely wise and tolerant, standing up 100% against hatred and prejudice, but prepared to give the children in his care freedom to make their own mistakes.
Well said!

There is a quote from "To Kill a Mockingbird," after Atticus is nearly attacked outside the jail for protecting his client, Tom Robinson. Scout speaks out in an innocent way and shames the adults there for a lynching, and the next day, Atticus says:

"That proves something—that a gang of wild animals can be stopped, simply because they’re still human. Hmp, maybe we need a police force of children…you children last night made Walter Cunningham stand in my shoes for a minute. That was enough."

That quote reminds me of the two "forces" in Order of the Phoenix - the "Inquisitorial Squad" and "Dumbledore's Army." Both are rather like a "police force of children," but JKR shows that whether that is good or bad depends on the goal of such a group - are their aims predatory or defensive?

The whole story is about "standing in the shoes" of someone else. JKR would probably call it "standing in someone's socks." Of course, Harry is always standing in someone else's socks - Vernon's or Dobby's or Dudley's, lol.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melazska
I'm interested to see Hamlet in the list. Am I alone in seeing parallels between Harry's relationship with Snape and Hamlet's relationship with Claudius? Harry, like Hamlet, has lost a father under treacherous circumstances. As Hamlet did with Claudius, he hates and resents Snape even before he knows that he had a hand in his father's death (and in the deaths of his two father figures, Dumbledore and Sirius).
That's a very interesting interpretation. Now we are at the point in which Harry blames Snape for the death of three fathers! That's more than even Hamlet had to deal with!


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Old January 20th, 2007, 9:25 pm
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

Quote:
Originally Posted by silver ink pot View Post
I admit that Emma - out of all of Jane Austen's heroines - bothers my the most, because she is irritatingly dense. Of course, people say the same about Harry sometimes. The reason we can forgive them both is that they are young and inexperienced in the ways of the world. The same can be said for Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. We see the world through her eyes as she comes to terms with the good and bad in everyone, and realizes that the "best of families" - such as the Darcy's - also have bad connections and extremely obnoxious people - Lady Catherine DeBerg, for instance, to name my favorite horrible person.
Yes I agree. It was hard to believe that Emma didn't realize Knightley was in love with her. Your comparison of Emma and Harry is a good one both are extremely naive and see things through a narrow view.

Oh and I also agree with you about Lady Catherine,she was so nasty in that book,Ugh!


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Old January 20th, 2007, 9:36 pm
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

Quote:
Originally Posted by silver ink pot View Post
That's a very interesting interpretation. Now we are at the point in which Harry blames Snape for the death of three fathers! That's more than even Hamlet had to deal with!
I'm sure Freud would love these books.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alwaysme View Post
Yes I agree. It was hard to believe that Emma didn't realize Knightley was in love with her. Your comparison of Emma and Harry is a good one both are extremely naive and see things through a narrow view.
There is another thing Emma and Harry share here - both of them fall in love with people without realising it. Where it took Emma an entire novel to realise her feelings for Knightley, it seems to take Harry ages to realise that he fancies Ginny - the reader knows it before he does. Like Emma with Knightley, he becomes subtly annoyed at the idea of Ginny being with someone else (going to Hogsmeade with Dean), without stopping to think about why he feels this way. We mainly see Harry's naivite in the main plots of HP, however - especially in OotP, where he pays a heavy price for misreading the clues, and rushing off to save someone who didn't need to be saved. The ultimate misinterpretation and twist of the series is likely to involve Snape, whatever it may be.


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Old January 20th, 2007, 9:48 pm
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

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Originally Posted by FaceofBoe View Post
There is another thing Emma and Harry share here - both of them fall in love with people without realising it. Where it took Emma an entire novel to realise her feelings for Knightley, it seems to take Harry ages to realise that he fancies Ginny - the reader knows it before he does. Like Emma with Knightley, he becomes subtly annoyed at the idea of Ginny being with someone else (going to Hogsmeade with Dean), without stopping to think about why he feels this way. We mainly see Harry's naivite in the main plots of HP, however - especially in OotP, where he pays a heavy price for misreading the clues, and rushing off to save someone who didn't need to be saved. The ultimate misinterpretation and twist of the series is likely to involve Snape, whatever it may be.

Yes I knew very early into HBP that Harry was starting to have deeper feelings for Ginny and it was enjoyable to read. The suggestion of them as couple has really been there since COS when Ginny has her puppy love crush on Harry.

The twist with Snape I expect will be some kind of lost tragic love and having to live his life pretending to work for the man (Voldemort) whom he truly despises. The misinterpretation of course is a number of events seen through the Harry filter,Sirius's death,Dumbledore's death. I expect Snape to finally be redeemed in Harry's eyes somehow though.


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Old January 22nd, 2007, 3:20 pm
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

Last night I watched the movie version of "The Commitments" based on the book by Roddy Doyle - who also wrote The Snapper and The Van.

I had forgotten that the name of the large family in the books is "Rabbitte."

The main character is named Jimmy Rabbitte. And I had forgotten that he has twin sisters who speak simultaneously.

It's just so much like the Weasley family! Easy to see the influence there!


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Old February 5th, 2007, 11:10 am
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

Great idea for a thread

There are so many things that could be brought back to Rowling's love of Jane Austen. Who can forget Mrs Norris? the sneaky watchful horrid Aunt?! The numerous Emma moments, the vain and pompus Lockhart always reminded me a little of Mr Collins as well.

Course there's the element of class and people moving within their own spheres and not outside it, something Lady Catherine De Burgh was so aghast about and is mirrored with Draco's belief that mudbloods and most people are inferior to him and his Malfoy blood.


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Old February 5th, 2007, 5:13 pm
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

Lady Catherine DeBerg is a great example of someone who wants to keep her family "Toujours Pur." She and her sister (Mr. Darcy's mother) supposedly planned for their children to marry "while in their cradles," though her daughter was sickly and Darcy obviously was making other plans with Elizabeth Bennet.

And though she never uses the term "Mudblood," she has that famous line, "Must the shades of Pemberly be thus polluted," in reference to Elizabeth's "lower class" family walking around Darcy's Pemberly estate.

Another connection with Pride and Prejudice is the "Peverell" family name mentioned by Mr. Gaunt, and connected to the horcrux ring that withers Dumbledore's hand.

That name comes from Derbyshire - the county of the Darcy family in P&P and Pemberly. Sir Walter Scott wrote a book called "Peveril of the Peake" in reference to Peak Castle in Derbyshire.

Peveril Castle, Castleton, Derbyshire:

There is also a road through the Peak District called "Snake Pass":
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_Pass
Snake Pass
The road is exceptionally scenic - the view at the start of the descent into Glossop is quite remarkable, on a clear day offering beautiful views over the city of Manchester (over 10 miles away) and beyond. The road was first built as a toll road in 1820 as the most direct route between the two cities. In the 20th century, the more northerly route of the Woodhead pass, which is less steep and at a lower altitude, became the primary road link between Manchester and Sheffield.

The Snake Pass passes through the National Trust's High Peak Estate, and lies within the High Peak borough of Derbyshire.

The name of the road matches its winding route, but originally derives from the emblem of the Snake Inn which is one of the few buildings on the high stretch of road. The pub's sign is derived from the serpent on the Cavendish arms of the Duke of Devonshire.





Snake Pass


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Old February 5th, 2007, 8:42 pm
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

I have recently read "Pride and Prejudice" and see the theme of class in that book. But it is also true of an era, too, a time before the industrial revolution made some working class people weathy. The United States has the Rockefellers and the Kennedys, people who became incredibly weathly and therefore moved into a higher social class because of their wealth. England has had a social class built on heredity long before the industrial revolution shook the classes up. JK Rowling gives her own spin on the ideas of social class



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Old February 16th, 2007, 10:45 am
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

I just finished Emma last night (first re-read in a couple of years) and something struck me, the air or the idea of things not being quite what they seem is striking. And it's only something you really notice towards the end of the book almost when it's too late ~ in my opinion, very JK Rowling.

In Emma, quite a lot of things are not as they seem ~ Mr Elton is not what he seems, Harriet is not quite what Emma thinks she is, Mr Knightly is not what he seems, Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill are not what they seem. All of this is only revealed towards the end of the book which is a style very much adopted by Rowling. How many of us were shocked on first reading that Quirrell had Voldemort sitting pretty on the back of his head? That Snape "killed" DUmbledore in the tower, that Slughorn knew more than he'd let on? Quite a lot of us.

The way the reader is drawn into the book and then BAM! Hit with the suprise is to me almost identical!


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Old February 16th, 2007, 7:53 pm
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

Liselle, Rowling has commented on Emma and her own writing in an interview she gave in 2000:

Boquet, Tim. "J.K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter," Reader's Digest, December 2000
"I love a good whodunnit and my passion is plot construction. Readers loved to be tricked, but not conned," Rowling says, warming to her theme. "The best twist ever in literature is in Jane Austen's Emma. To me she is the target of perfection at which we shoot in vain."


I think she and Austen use a similar narrative technique to achieve these surprises. Both Emma and Harry are likable main characters. When they see things their respective authors have carefully set up to lead them astray (like the piano that was sent to Miss Fairfax, or Snape seemingly suspicious activities in PS/SS) and jump to conclusions we tend to follow along, thus being surprised, along with them, when in the end the full picture is revealed.


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Old February 17th, 2007, 1:14 pm
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

Quote:
Originally Posted by zgirnius View Post
Liselle, Rowling has commented on Emma and her own writing in an interview she gave in 2000:

Boquet, Tim. "J.K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter," Reader's Digest, December 2000
"I love a good whodunnit and my passion is plot construction. Readers loved to be tricked, but not conned," Rowling says, warming to her theme. "The best twist ever in literature is in Jane Austen's Emma. To me she is the target of perfection at which we shoot in vain."


I think she and Austen use a similar narrative technique to achieve these surprises. Both Emma and Harry are likable main characters. When they see things their respective authors have carefully set up to lead them astray (like the piano that was sent to Miss Fairfax, or Snape seemingly suspicious activities in PS/SS) and jump to conclusions we tend to follow along, thus being surprised, along with them, when in the end the full picture is revealed.
That's a great JKR quotation and an excellent point about the use of an unreliable narrative viewpoint. So, given this thread is entitled "Clues...", what do we think is/are the twist(s) that JKR has been using Harry's viewpoint to conceal? I would guess Snape's continuing innocence as the main thing, but has anyone got any other suggestions?

Unrelated point, I'm not sure if it's a clue, but does anyone else see a close parallel between Merope Gaunt and Mayella in To Kill A Mockingbird?


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Old February 17th, 2007, 6:47 pm
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

She is also a Christian. I wonder if she has included biblical tidbits in the books as well.


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Old February 17th, 2007, 6:51 pm
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melaszka
Unrelated point, I'm not sure if it's a clue, but does anyone else see a close parallel between Merope Gaunt and Mayella in To Kill A Mockingbird?
To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books, too. I see a lot of parallels. We have a coming of age story, with the daughter, Scout, telling the story of her family, highlighting her father's defense of Tom Robinson.

Quote:
Mayella Ewell - Bob Ewell’s abused, lonely, unhappy daughter. Though one can pity Mayella because of her overbearing father, one cannot pardon her for her shameful indictment of Tom Robinson. from Sparknotes
I guess in that one sentence, a lot of parallels can be seen. Mayella and Merope both set the story in motion, too.


Atticus and Dumbledore:
- Attitcus is a defense attorney. He stands for what he feels is right, not what is easy or what is popular. He defends a black man from the false accusation of raping a white woman. Tom's fate is predetermined by his race in this southern state, but Atticus believes the battle is worth fighting none the less.
- Atticus is a wonderful mentor, showing his children, and those members of the community who are willing to see it, how a person should treat others.

Scout is an interesting character. She is very open-minded. She is not afraid of the retarded neighbor next door. And she goes so far as to make friends with the outcast, too. She is grateful because he saved her and her brother from attack. Someone was trying to hurt the children in an attempt to get Atticus to drop his defense of Tom.



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Old February 17th, 2007, 9:46 pm
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

Quote:
Originally Posted by zgirnius View Post
I think she and Austen use a similar narrative technique to achieve these surprises. Both Emma and Harry are likable main characters. When they see things their respective authors have carefully set up to lead them astray (like the piano that was sent to Miss Fairfax, or Snape seemingly suspicious activities in PS/SS) and jump to conclusions we tend to follow along, thus being surprised, along with them, when in the end the full picture is revealed.
I'd not seen that quote! Funny how I thought of it after reading the book thoguh, I did know Rowling was a Jane Austen fan!

Quote:
Unrelated point, I'm not sure if it's a clue, but does anyone else see a close parallel between Merope Gaunt and Mayella in To Kill A Mockingbird?
Now that is interesting, it's over ten years (eep!) since I've opened to Kill a Mockingbird. I don't remember much about Mayella other than her being maybe a bit spiteful. But I think she was a product of her circumstance much like Merope.


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Old February 17th, 2007, 10:40 pm
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Re: Clues From JKR's Favorite Books

The Ewells and the Gaunts are very similar. They are extremely poor, yet extremely proud and violent. I believe that they also have instances of inbreeding (correct me if I'm wrong).


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