Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fairy tales where the strong women save the Prince are best!

Snow White and Rose Red
Patricia C. Wrede

There was once a poor widow who lived in a lonely cottage. In front of the cottage was a garden wherein stood two rose-trees, one of which bore white and the other red roses....

Rosamund and Blanche are the daughters of a poor widow in a small town in Elizabethan England; the three of them gather herbs from the woods to make remedies for the citizens of Mortlak. They are extremely careful when in the woods, for it contains the ever shifting border of faerie, a border they are wary of but cross over occasionally while protected with herbs and small charms. The Queen of faerie has two half-mortal sons, one who resides mainly in faerie (Hugh) and the other who wanders freely the land of mortals (John). When the favored son of the Queen, Hugh, has his faerie-essence stolen and is exiled from his home, John goes against his mothers wishes and follows his brother to save him. Soon, he comes across the Widow and her daughters and together they risk their lives to right the wrongs that have been done.

This retelling of a classic German fairy tale weaves together fantasy, mystery, danger, and romance into a story that not only entertains but has a happily-ever-after ending. I really enjoyed the Wrede took liberties with the story, transforming the classic characters and introducing a few new one of her own while sticking to the main plot of the original tale - and to show you the parallels, she includes snip-its of the German version at the beginning of each chapter. The dialogue was also written in Elizabethan English which I have mixed feelings about: it added to the authentic feel of the story but the non-dialogue was written in modern day English and switching back and forth between the two was not always a smooth transition for the reader.

Overall, a wonderful story that proves that sometime the Disney version of fairy tales aren't always the best; I for one would take an overprotective and loving mother with two headstrong teenage girls who sweep in and save the Prince any day over the docile female characters of the 1950's Disney who wait to be rescued - take charge ladies....and teach a moral at the same time :)

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