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Rapunzel is one of my absolute favourite fairy tale characters, and I was slightly worried before I read The Fairest of Them All as I was warned that I would see a very different side to her. Well that is true, she is most definitely not the goody two shoes princess that you get in most tellings, rather she is an actual human. As a character I loved that, and even at her darkest moments I was able to feel sorry for her, one of the advantages of a first person narrative would seem to be that somewhat evil action are able to feel rational to the reader. Rapunzel was definitely a multi-layered character though, and she particularly seemed to dwell on her feelings of regret.
The one major flaw that Rapunzel did have was her vanity, which was important to the other fairy tale that was told in The Fairest of Them All, Snow White. In fact, Turgeon managed to weave the stories so artfully that when you are reading you can't imagine them ever being separate. Of course there are slight differences to the 'traditional' tales, mainly Rapunzel being a witch (she was trained by Madame Gothel), and the part that the seven dwarves played, though both of these changes, or more accurately, expansions, on the original stories worked well. And there is even a brief mention of Hansel and Gretel in the story!
The relationship between Rapunzel and Snow White was well written, and in my opinion, they acted like a new step mother and daughter would act, particularly down to them growing apart when Snow White became a teenager, you can almost feel like the hatred and jealousy is justified, though I much preferred reading about the love and the respect that they shared at one point.
I would say that there was one major plot twist that I had considered, and half-expected, part of, but not foreseen in its entirety. Meaning that I got a slight shock at the reveal and the connotations of the big reveal. The plot twist did deepen the story though and added yet another level of drama.
The one other thing that should be mentioned is that, though it is never explicit, there is frequent mention of sex, desire and nudity, though a lot of the time this is shown through the focus of emotions being transferred to Rapunzel's hair (really the only way to explain that one is to read!) and considering that vanity and lust are big parts of the story it is kind of to be expected. The sex is there as part of the story, to help tell it, not to be explicit, which means that it fits well into the book and skirting around it could have been detrimental to the story.
Overall I found The Fairest of Them All to be a really enjoyable read, and would recommend it to anyone who likes their fairy tales traditional, but with just a hint of a surprise!
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My Question for the Day: Do you think that fairy tale characters, particularly Princes and Princesses, remain 100% good, or should they be more dimensional like Rapunzel in The Fairest of Them All?
Guest Post by Carolyn Turgeon: The most memorable book(s) you read when you were younger
When I was a kid, going to the library was the most wonderful thing in the world. We moved around a lot and I was incredibly shy and barely even spoke when I was in school, a place I found terrifying. Books let me experience so many other lives and places, be so many other people when I wasn’t at all comfortable being myself. Some of my favorite books were the Betsy-Tacy-Tibb series by Maud Hart Lovelace, in which we follow Betsy and her friends Tacy and Tibb as they grow up. The books begin when Betsy’s five, I think, and end when she’s in her 20s. They’re set in the late 19th century and early 20th and I remember vividly how Betsy ran around in long dresses and wanted more than anything in the world to become a writer. She was always sitting in trees scribbling furiously in her journals (that’s what I remember, anyway, this image burned into my brain) and it was so romantic and dazzling that I got the idea that being a writer was—and is—the very best thing to be.
I recently learned that there’s a Betsy-Tacy Society in Mankato, Minnesota, Maud Hart Lovelace’s hometown and the books’ setting. The Society actually owns the childhood homes of Maud and her best friend Frances (upon whom the characters of Betsy and Tacy are based) and hold regular events. The houses are fully restored to look just as they did when Maud lived in them at the turn of the 20th century. I think it’s clear I need to take a road trip!
I did get to visit the Pippi Longstocking museum in Stockholm a few years back. It’s actually devoted to all the works of Astrid Lindgren, and you take this little train ride through scenes from all of her books, and visit Pippi’s house. I felt a little weird being by myself in this museum full of kids, but what can I say, Pippi was my hero(ine)!
The UnofficialAddiction Book Fan Club & A Reading Nurse -> Welcome to the Fantastic Flying Book Club!
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Reader Rising -> Review
Cecilia Robert -> Excerpt
Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy, Paranormal and Romance -> Review + Favorite Quote
After Dark Rendezvous -> Review + Interview
Literary, etc. -> Review
Paranormal Book Club -> Review + Favorite Quote
Bookcase To Heaven -> Review + Dream Cast
Bookish Outsider -> Review
Bookhounds -> Review + Excerpt
On The Shelf -> Review
Paper Cuts -> Review + Excerpt
Bound By Words -> Review
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A Dream Within A Dream -> Review + Excerpt
Read. Sleep. Repeat -> Excerpt
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