Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Goose Girl...random thoughts

Fairy tales. As I said not so long ago in a post, I wasn't one of those who grew up on fairy tales. But last summer, when I was trying to put together some kind of plan for Annie's school year, I decided that we should explore the world of folktales and fairy tales. Right here, I need to say a big thank you to Nymeth. She has graciously answered questions and given advice to this poor novice here. But even more than that, her deep true love of these stories has been utterly contagious.

Anyway, what I had assumed would be a very fun "unit" of study for Annie, has really become an immense pleasure to me. I've been so captivated by the fairy tales we've been reading...I can't imagine I will ever stop searching them out.

And now we come to the idea of fairy tale retellings. A year ago, I'm not sure I even knew such books existed. Last month, I read my first, I Was A Rat by Philip Pullman, which by the way, I adored. But that story was more of an epilogue focusing on a particular character from a fairy tale (if that makes any sense at all). The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale, on the other hand, takes the Grimms Brothers "The Goose Girl" and really turns it into a full novel. I have to admit, "The Goose Girl" is one of my favorite fairy tales, one of the few I've known and loved for years. I was a bit leery that anyone could really retell this story and do it justice.

Well, my fears were entirely unfounded! What can I say? I love, love, love this book! In a way I haven't loved a book in while. Not more or less, necessarily, but differently. Not in a soul-searching, thought-provoking way. But plain and simply, in a sweet and joyful way. I was utterly astounded at the way Shannon Hale stayed so true to the fairy tale, while bringing the story and the characters so wonderfully to life. This book is nothing if not magical!

I'll be the first to admit, I've never been much of a princess kind of girl. But you know what, Shannon Hale just might change that! There's a quote on the back of the book from The New York Times Book Review that I think sums up the book perfectly for me:

"In layer upon layer of detail a beautiful coming-of-age story emerges, a tale about learning to rescue yourself rather than falling accidentally into happily-ever-after."

Now I know it's not exactly unheard of for me to cry while reading a book, but this is the first book I can remember in a very long time that left tears of joy in my eyes as I finished the last page.

(Now that's a lot of bang for your reading challenge buck, huh?)

Other blog reviews:
*Kim at Bold. Blue. Adventure.
*Annie at Words by Annie
*Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot
*Eva at A Striped Armchair
*Melody at Melody's Reading Corner
*Deslily at Here There and Everywhere


Joy said...

Like you, no fairy tales for me as a kid, but unlike you, I had no interest in seeking them out as an adult. However, last year I was trying to broaden my horizons and Booklogged had read this, so I gave it a try and was shockingly pleased. :) I'm going to read another by Hale soon. I look forward to it.

BTW ~ Your excitement was fun to read!

raidergirl3 said...

I just finished Hale's Princess Academy and it was terific. I can't wait to read The Goose Girl for Once Upon a Time.
Nice review. I don't know if Princess Academy is based on another tale, but it was really good.
Why didn't we read many fairy tales when we were young? Maybe children's literature just wasn't as developed.

Chris said...

OK, you've tipped the scale for me...I'm going to go get this one! People have been talking about this one for so long, but I can see from your review that I would absolutely love this. I have to read it!

Nymeth said...

It's a pleasure to have been able to help you and Annie, Debi, and to have shared my love of these stories. It really made me smile to see you say that :)

And I can't wait to read this book! It's settled, it's going to be the first one I read for OUAT2. I just know I'm going to love it!

Carl V. said...

Goose Girl is the only one of Shannon Hale's books that I have read, but not because she isn't a wonderful writer. I just haven't gotten to the others yet. I have purchased all of her books for my wife and she has enjoyed every one of them. Shannon Hale's blog is always an entertaining place to visit as well. She is an amazing author.

I'm not surprised when people haven't read fairy tales but it does surprise me sometimes when people don't want to read them as an adult. They, like myths and folktales, have such a rich history to them and when used well can give such a deep resonance to contemporary reworkings of them that it is a crime not to read them. I'm so glad you've gotten to experience this for yourself.

Melody said...

Ooh... I want to add this book to my wishlist!!!

kreed said...

This one's on my list - can't wait to read it now!

Rhinoa said...

I tried to skim read your review as I hope to read this in either April or May and don't want to spoil it too much despite knowing the tale. I read enough to see you really enjoyed it which is the main thing!

Framed said...

I have read all of Hale's books so far and each new one becomes my favorite. (Just finished Book of a Thousand Days) She is as fun to listen to as she is to read. Goose Girl was my first so it holds wonderful memories.