Wednesday, 6 February 2008

The Door in the Hedge

This was a reread for me. I had read this book many years ago after it first came out, and along the way lost my copy. When I saw it in print again last year, I picked it up. It is a collection of four fairy tales retold by Robin McKinley. The Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Princess and the Frog, The Hunting of the Hind, and The Stolen Princess. Ms McKinley has kept to the original spirit of fairy tales in her retellings. The kingdoms are all unnamed, and if the princes and princesses have names - in the Twelve Dancing Princesses, none of the princesses are named, nor is the soldier who rescues them, nor the King - they are not as important as the roles played. There is a certain tone in fairy tales that if captured, makes the stories themselves the essence - in the Princess and the Frog (also known as the Frog Prince in other retellings), all the characters have names, but it is the character - the princess who is trapped somehow, the prince in disguise, and how they are freed, that is the essential part of the story. The names can change, and so can how the story is told, so long as that story is told. It is the same with each of these stories in this collection. There are moments of haunting beauty, of timeless and perfect description, but it is McKinley's retelling - her twist she puts on each, her version, and her choice of words that cast a mood - that make these so memorable. It is as if she has caught the spirit of the fairy tale and woven it onto the page. These are perfect. I was happy when the Golden Hind is freed by the princess, I was delighted when the princess talks to the frog; I felt the terror of the shadow of the evil that has enchanted the dancing princesses. These are delightful, wonderful versions to read to my daughter when she gets older. They are fun. Now, it will be interesting to compare these with Angela Carter's versions of fairy tales, which I have heard are much darker. And since I love the movie Ella Enchanted as much as I love A Company of Wolves, I suspect that I will like both kinds of fairy tales equally, though for very different reasons. For lightness of touch, beauty, and for charm, these are among the very best. There is a reason it was nominated for the Mythopoeic award.
Though, I have to say now, that I want to rewrite the Princess and the Frog my way now, since I remember the Muppets version also! which I loved also - the princess and her golden ball, and Robin (Kermit's nephew) who brings the ball up. There are so many versions of the Frog Prince, and I think I love them all, because as I said, it is the essential story that I love ....I even have a little metal frog with a crown who sits in my garden 7 months of the year.
I still don't have a copy of Ulysses, so what to read next? My newly-bought books, reading challenges, TBR, Christmas books?

8 comments:

Lady P said...

You certainly have a devotion to books even more so than I thought possible. Kristen shows a lot of the characteristics you do...although I think you have the edge on "fanatical". It's nice to love something so much and I'm very interested in reading what you write about different books. A note aside: daughter is exiting her blog and neither of us was happy to hear that a certain aunt was reading her blog. That aunt had every opportunity accorded her while we lived out west and my daughter wasn't worth the effort to her out there. Kristen does not want any contact with her and was very hurt that she was not worth the effort when we lived in Alberta - and she really needed an aunt. If I find out same aunt is reading my blog, then I will delete it and leave the blogging world rather than let them into our life. They are harmful to us, regrettably, and for now at least our lives are better when they stay away. I am only interested in the family who stuck through thick and thin. Sorry to unload on the blog but if certain aunt cruises here too, I want the message to be loud and clear. If I am wrong in the aunt perusing the blog please let me know.

All that aside, if you leave notes on other blogs they will discover your blog and interesting comments will ensue. I'm very new to book discussions, etc, but am looking to expand my reading repetoire, so keep up the good work!! Love sis

Susan said...

Hi sis - glad you are enjoying my blog so much! I do go to other blogs and leave comments, and some bloggers are finding their way to me, so I think I'm doing ok. As you can tell (you MUST have forgotten!) I LOVE books. I expect Kristen when she gets older, will have the capability (ie knowledge, background) to write about what she loves in books as well. I hope so! I am delighted she reads as much as I did! This is good!
Home sick again, some virus is making the rounds at Holly-Anne's home daycare, Vicki's kids were sick again too, last night. I made it to work one day this week....
Won't comment on other aunties reading blogs right now, except to say I'm sorry that made you (and I don't know if any of them even know you have/had a blog) quit Mathew's blog, because I thought it was an excellent one and showed how Asperger's affected your family life.

Table Talk said...

I had a copy of this book in the last library I over saw and I loved it. I'm so glad you reminded me of her work. I must look out for anything else she's written.

Susan said...

Table Talk - she has a new book out, DragonHaven, which looks really interesting - I'm waiting for it to come out in paperback. Deerskin is another fairly recent fairytale retelling she did, which was lovely. She also has blog at http://robinmckinley.livejournal.com/
which is alot of fun to read.

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