Dear Sophie Hatter


It was the very first lines of your book in which you caught me. The magic, the mystery, the phrasing was all part of it. But you were the eldest of three sisters, doomed by design to fail first and worst. And it was at that moment that I knew someone, somewhere understood me. And then of course, I met you. We have more in common than I could have ever dreamed, because when it came down to it, I never dreamed someone would write a story about me.

Or at least, the story I wish I could have.

I know you’ll understand me when I say I feel like a failure most of the time. Unsuccessful, unremarkable, undesirable. It’s frustrating, because I want to follow your example- to finally take control over my own life, to step out into the world and realize that I am valuable, worthy. But, well, I’m sick Sophie. Not just in the sick-and-tired way; but in the real, permanent sickness and pain and so unhealthy that sometimes I can’t take care of myself way. There aren’t any witches here to help me get started seeking my fortune, either by cure or by curse. More importantly, I’m afraid of failing, so afraid it has me paralyzed. Not just than that- I’m afraid that failure is my only option. I am, after all, the eldest of three, and while that may not have the same magical implications here, I still seem to follow that trend.

And Sophie? There’s one more thing, something I desperately try to avoid even thinking about. And it’s another thing I think you’ll understand. I’m afraid my failures, doomed or cursed or just the ordinary sort of failures, will make it impossible to ever find someone who loves me. It comes down to this- I am very well aware what it feels like to fall in love. But I have never, not once in my 25 years on this Earth, felt what it’s like to have them love you back. Isn’t that a pathetic thing to say out loud? (Or write down, I suppose, but it hardly matters).

Can you see why I need some of your strength? Some of your reassurance? It’s silly to think I can simply talk myself out of feeling like a failure. People say you simply have to be optimistic; but I think you know as well as I do that all the optimism in the world won’t help you feel confident when there’s not a single scrap of evidence as to why you should be. Especially when the evidence demonstrating your failure is so strong.

Being an old woman, being out there seeing magic and bossing around Howl and Michael and Calcifer, learning that you have powers and strengths and talents that were unique just to you, it helped you find a foothold. It gave you something to cling to as you found your confidence. And I just don’t know how to find that foothold, Sophie. So I was hoping, if it’s not too much trouble, you could send a little bit of magic my way. Not a lot, mind you; I don’t really fancy being turned into an old woman when I’ve already got aches and pains and arthritis. Just a drop. Just enough. Enough to get started on a journey in which I might find confidence of my own.

Even if you can’t Sophie (and I would totally understand, since you obviously know more about how such things work than I do), I appreciate you sharing your story with me. Many times, just reading those words enough to give a little boost of hope, which is a sort of type of magic in it’s own way.

Thank you,

An Admirer

P.S. I don’t have a fireplace, so if you intend to send Calcifer as a sort of magical help, please let me know in advance so I can stock up on long burning candles or oil lanterns or something.



Sophie Hatter is from the novel Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones


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