Monday, December 8, 2008

Becoming a true princess

"The Goose Girl" was always one of my favorite stories in my Grimm's fairy tale collection when I was growing up. I'm not sure why - it may have been because I'd never heard of it anywhere else or seen it as a movie (like "Cinderella" and "Snow White.) It was also so very odd, with the horse's head hung over the bridge, which I found both fascinating and horrible. What can I say? It appears my taste for dark fantasy was forming even back then.

The first time I read this, I was excited to see how Hale would explain all the things that I'd always wondered about when I read the fairy tale. How did the princess allow her lady's maid to take her place so easily? And what about that poor horse? Even though I knew how the story would end, Shannon Hale's retelling was a riveting read all the same, with a depth of character not found in traditional fairy tales and plenty of twists and turns and deft world-building.

The story is about Ani, a princess who lives in the shadow of her vibrant, successful mother. Ani is different from the day she is born, with odd abilities that are unsettling to those around her (except her father). Instead of inheriting the throne, as she expects, she suddenly finds herself sent on a long journey to marry a prince of another kingdom in order to maintain peace. Ani's serious issues with self-confidence land her in a spot when she finds herself betrayed, on the run, in fear for her life, and subsequently trying to live what others would call a normal life after having been waited on hand and foot since she was a baby. While she at times tried my patience with her timidity and self-doubt, Ani does rise to the challenge, discovering things about herself - and the responsibility of being a princess - that she never would have without facing such difficult trials.

There are now several books in the Bayern series, and finding my memory of this one to have faded a bit, I thought I'd listen to the audio version before continuing on with the series. I was delighted to find it is a Full Cast Audio production. These are fabulous interpretations of children's books, with each character's dialog spoken by a different actor, and a single narrator reading the rest of the book. They do a wonderful job! I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting this exciting novel, and I'm looking forward to reading the second in the series.

The Goose Girl (#1 in the Bayern series) by Shannon Hale (Full Cast Audio, 2005)

Books in The Goose Girl series:
1. The Goose Girl
2. Enna Burning
3. River Secrets

Other reviews:
Fyrefly's Book Blog: "
Overall, I thought it was a nice story, although a little longer than it warranted and without any twist or hook to really grab my attention."
Love and Hate: "Shannon Hale's writing is beautiful. Her descriptions are beautiful. The story is beautiful. The goose girl and her yellow hair are beautiful. I love everything about the book."
Rhinoa's Ramblings: "There were lots of twists and turns and the story telling was beautifully woven."
Things Mean a Lot: "I don’t think I have been this completely enchanted by a book since I read Stardust for the first time."

9 comments:

  1. This book was enchanting. I loved Hale's descriptions of Ani calling the wind. Beautiful. I can't wait for the fourth book!

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  2. I loved those descriptions, too! She is a wonderful writer, and I'm so looking forward to the next book.

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  3. I'd never heard of the story until Hale's book. I really want to get around to reading it someday! The cover is gorgeous too.

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  4. It's not the most popular story, but for whatever reason I always found it compelling!

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  5. It's good to read this one's just as good the second time around! And I look forward to reading your thoughts on the rest of the series.

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  6. Count me as another one who'd never heard of this story until I listened to this book a year ago (review here). It didn't bowl me over (I thought it was a little longer than it needed to be), but I'd definitely still read the sequels. I'll be looking forward to hearing if you think they're any good!

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  7. Nymeth - I'm glad I reread it so events will be fresh in my mind for the next book. Have you read the whole series so far?

    Fyrefly - I added your link to the review. I like to get different opinions! I liked the wind part because it helped to explain something that had always mystified me as a child in a way that felt believable. But you have a good point - if it weren't for the fairytale the book is based on, that might be a bit too extraneous to the rest of the story. Hmmm - something to think about!

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  8. I love Shannon Hale and The Goose Girl. The audio version sounds wonderful as well. Better get my hands on that.

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  9. Framed - Full Cast Audio really does a great job with audio books. I have a new one lined up to listen to, and I'm very much looking forward to it. It's a bit disconcerting to see how my audio tbr is getting just as huge as the regular book pile! At least it's virtual and doesn't take up as much space!

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